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Major Minnesota electricity provider to shut coal plant, invest in wind power

Great River Energy has announced it will close its North Dakota coal plant several years earlier than planned.
Coal Creek Station

Minnesota's second-largest electricity provider is closing its coal-fired power plant and switching to wind farms.

The Maple Grove-based Great River Energy plans to close its 1,150 megawatt (MW) Coal Creek Power Station – one of the Upper Midwest’s largest electricity plants – in North Dakota in the second half of 2022, the company announced Thursday.

The company expects two-thirds of its electricity will come from wind farms once it completes its transition, investing $1.2 billion to buy 1,100 MW from wind energy projects.

"We are building a power supply portfolio that will serve our member-owner cooperatives for decades," avid Great River CEO Saggau said.

“Our power supply plans deliver on our member-owners’ three highest priorities: affordability, reliability and environmental stewardship. Electric cooperatives have a bright future in Minnesota."

Coal plants have been losing money as gas-fired power and renewable energy become more popular. In 2018, the research group Carbon Tracker found that more than four out of every 10 coal-fired power stations were running at a loss.

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Xcel Energy, the state’s largest electricity provider, plans to close its Minnesota coal plants by 2030, a decade earlier than planned, it announced last year.

The North Dakota power station employs 260 workers.

“We will make every effort to minimize impacts on our employees and the communities through this transition,” Saggau said in a press release.

The plant is a key part of McLean County’s tax base. Great River said it will continue to pay local taxes for five years after the closure, totalling $15 million. 

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