New ownership group for Coal Creek Station plans carbon capture and renewables

David Saggau
David SaggauPresident and Chief Executive Officer, Great River Energy
Great River Energy is the second largest electric power supplier in Minnesota and one of the largest generation and transmission cooperatives in the country.

Great River Energy, Dakota Electric’s wholesale power provider, reached an agreement to sell the Coal Creek Station power plant to Rainbow Energy Center, LLC.

The sale of Coal Creek Station averts the plant’s closure, which was scheduled for the second half of 2022 unless a buyer was found. Rainbow Energy Center will continue to operate the 1,151-megawatt (MW) power plant using current plant employees they hire. Rainbow Energy Center also plans to develop carbon capture and storage at Coal Creek Station.

“We are excited for what the future holds for our North Dakota employees and the communities surrounding Coal Creek Station,” said Great River Energy President and Chief Executive Officer David Saggau.

Nexus Line, LLC has reached an agreement to purchase from Great River Energy the high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system that extends between central North Dakota and Minnesota. Great River Energy will operate and maintain the HVDC system under a 10-year contract.

“Great River Energy’s power supply changes deliver what our members want today and set us up for success for a very long time,” said Dakota Electric President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Miller.

Rainbow Energy Center and Nexus Line are affiliates of Rainbow Energy Marketing Corp. of Bismarck, North Dakota.

“The successful implementation of carbon capture and storage is central to our plans at Coal Creek Station,” said Rainbow Energy Marketing Corp. President Stacy L. Tschider. “As a privately held company, we are uniquely positioned to continue the successful legacy that Great River Energy and its employees have established in North Dakota.”

Rainbow Energy Center plans to add incremental generation from renewables to fully utilize the capacity of the HVDC transmission system.

Following the sale of Coal Creek Station, Great River Energy will have a contract with Rainbow Energy Center. Great River Energy will purchase 1,050 megawatts of power from Rainbow Energy Center for approximately two years, followed by 300 megawatts for approximately eight years.

The power purchase agreement provides a cost-effective and appropriately sized resource to serve Great River Energy’s member-owners that will serve as a reliable steppingstone as Great River Energy transitions its power supply. Great River Energy estimates the transactions will save member-owners $130 million compared with shutting down the plant.

“We are building a power supply portfolio that will serve our member-owner cooperatives with clean, affordable and reliable energy for decades,” said Saggau. The cooperative will add 900 MW of wind energy by 2023 and remains on track to meet Minnesota’s 80% carbon dioxide reduction goal ahead of schedule.

The sale of Coal Creek Station and the HVDC system is expected to close later this year, after required approvals are obtained.