Great River Energy to close Coal Creek Station

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Great River Energy has announced they’re closing the Coal Creek Station in the second half of 2022. GRE says they are willing to consider options to sell the plant as well. Coal Creek Station has been in operation in Underwood since 1979 and employs 260 people.

Governor Burgum announced after the release that his office is actively engaging with GRE to look into selling to a third party.

“While this news is disappointing, Lt. Gov. Sanford and I are more determined than ever to find a path forward for Coal Creek Station that preserves high-paying jobs and keeps North Dakota’s most efficient and updated coal-fired plant on the grid to ensure baseload power capacity for our state and the region,” Burgum said. “We remain committed to bringing stakeholders to the table to evaluate all options and find opportunity in this uncertainty. We appreciate GRE’s 40-year history of positive economic impact on the energy and agriculture industries in North Dakota and look forward to collaborative opportunities in the future.”

The closure would be especially devastating not just to the 265 workers at the plant, but the over 500 who work at the nearby Falkirk Mine, which has a “life of the plant” contract with Great River, meaning an end to the plant would ripple down to the mine.

J.C. Butler, CEO of North American Coal, the operator of the Falkirk Mine near Underwood, ND, which is the lignite supplier to Coal Creek Station, issued a statement today stating that North American Coal is actively engaged in the exploration of options to allow for the transfer of the plant to one or more third parties, which would preserve jobs at both Coal Creek Station and the Falkirk Mine, which employs 480 people.

Great River Energy held a meeting today, May 7th to announce their plans. They also announced their plan to modify their Spiritwood Station outside of Jamestown. It will become fueled by natural gas.

Great River Energy says they will assist local communities during the upcoming transition, with plans to make voluntary annual payments of the local government share of the plant’s taxes for five years after the plant’s closure. Great River Energy plans to negotiate an agreement to terminate its steam and water supply contract with Blue Flint, an ethanol biorefinery fueled by process steam from Coal Creek Station.

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