(Bismarck, ND) -- It appears we are getting closer to the sale of North Dakota's Coal Creek Station.

Governor Doug Burgum today announced that Great River Energy (GRE) is in exclusive negotiations to sell Coal Creek Station and GRE’s high-voltage, direct current transmission system. If such a sale occurs, the buyer would continue to operate Coal Creek Station and GRE would not shut it down.

Last May, GRE, a not-for-profit wholesale electric power cooperative providing power in Minnesota and Wisconsin, announced plans to retire Coal Creek Station, a 1,151-megawatt coal generating power plant in Underwood, N.D., during the second half of 2022.

Since then, the Burgum-Sanford administration has worked diligently with GRE and potential buyers to assist in finding solutions for the plant to continue operating, with Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford taking a critical lead role in the efforts. Coal Creek Station has been in operation since 1979 and has 240 employees. North American Coal’s nearby Falkirk Mine, the lignite coal supplier to Coal Creek Station, employs approximately 450 people.

“This is wonderful news for Coal Creek Station’s employees, their local communities and the entire state of North Dakota,” Burgum said. “Great River Energy has had a positive impact on North Dakota’s energy and agriculture industries for more than 40 years and has always been a great corporate citizen. They are continuing that record as we work on solutions for Coal Creek Station’s future. We’re deeply grateful to Lieutenant Governor Sanford, GRE, the Legislature, our state’s congressional delegation and everyone involved in creating a viable path forward for Coal Creek Station and our lignite coal industry.”

After conducting a national search to identify and engage potential buyers of Coal Creek Station and the high-voltage transmission line, GRE has entered exclusive negotiations with one potential buyer who is proposing to buy the plant and the line.

The interested party plans to pursue carbon capture and sequestration, which was a major factor in GRE’s decision to negotiate exclusively with the party. Carbon capture and sequestration is the process of capturing carbon dioxide from power plants or industrial processes and injecting it into deep underground rock formations that trap the gas and prevent it from escaping into the atmosphere.

This week, Burgum signed Senate Bill 2152, which provides a sales tax exemption for carbon dioxide used for secure geologic storage – providing an incentive to continue developing North Dakota’s abundant lignite coal resources in an environmentally sound manner.