Underwood’s Coal Creek Station has a new owner — and it’s a locally based business.

Rainbow Energy Center has reached an agreement to purchase Coal Creek from Great River Energy and operate the facility using current plant employees they hire.

Further, Nexus Line has agreed to buy from Great River the high voltage transmission system (HVDC) that runs between central North Dakota and Minnesota.

Both Rainbow Energy and Nexus Line are affiliates of Rainbow Energy Marketing Corporation, located in Bismarck.

The purchases of Coal Creek Station and the HVDC system are expected to close later this year.

Rainbow Energy has been involved in the wholesale power marketing and trading business across North America since 1994. Looking ahead at Coak Creek, the company plans to focus the station on both current and emerging energy production to maintain and expand the HVDC transmission system.

Stacy Tschider

Carbon capture technology and renewable energy sources, such as wind power, are among the emerging storage and generation sources Rainbow Energy will be using.

“Carbon capture and storage is vital to the continued operation of Coal Creek Station and will be an important step toward Gov. Doug Burgum’s goal for the state to reach carbon neutrality by 2030,” said Rainbow Energy Marketing Corporation President Stacy L. Tschider.

Following the sale of the plant and transmission system, Great River Energy will, for the immediate future, buy energy and storage capacity from Rainbow Energy.

“Purchasing energy and capacity from Rainbow was not in our original plan, but it will serve as a reliable
steppingstone in our power supply transition,” said Great River Energy President and Chief Executive
Officer David Saggau.

On its end, Great River Energy plans to add 900 megawatts of wind energy to its system before the end of 2023 and modify the 99-megawatt coal and natural gas-based Spiritwood Station power plant just east of Jamestown to be fueled primarily by natural gas.

“I’m not just looking to prop up coal, just to prop up coal. I’m looking to take coal to the next level. Through the innovation of carbon capture, a world class project is what gets me excited, with 45Q,” Tschider said. “What also gets me excited is how much this is going to mean not just for North Dakota, and not just for these people that work at the plant, but Minnesota. This is a win-win across the board.”

The sale is good news, economically, for the state and the Underwood area, mainly in preserving jobs at the Coal Creek Station and at the Falkirk Mine, which is an energy supplier to Coal Creek.

Prior to the sale, Great River Energy announced in May 2020 it intended to close Coal Creek in 2022 if a buyer could not be found.

Coal Creek has been in operation since 1979 and employs roughly 260 people.

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