GRE Member Cooperatives Approve Sale of Coal Creek Station to Rainbow Energy

(Bismarck, ND) -- Governor Doug Burgum and Lt. Governor Brent Sanford Friday applauded the vote by Great River Energy’s member cooperatives to approve the sale of Coal Creek Station near Underwood to Rainbow Energy Center LLC. The cooperatives also approved the sale of GRE’s high-voltage direct current system to Nexus Line LLC. Rainbow Energy Center and Next are both affiliates of Bismarck-based Rainbow Energy Marketing Corp.

“This is another huge step forward in securing a long-term, viable future for Coal Creek Station, its workers and the communities that depend on the hundreds of jobs at Coal Creek and the nearby Falkirk Mine,” Burgum and Sanford said in a joint statement. “We’re grateful to GRE and its member cooperatives for approving this sale, and to Rainbow Energy Center and Nexus Line for their investment, which will support U.S. energy security and help maintain a strong regional power grid for consumers who depend on the reliable, affordable electricity provided by North Dakota’s abundant lignite coal.”

The GRE member cooperatives also approved a related purchase power agreement under which GRE will buy 1,050 megawatts of power from Rainbow Energy Center for approximately two years, followed by 300 megawatts for approximately eight years, GRE announced.

"“Today’s approval by GRE’s member cooperatives is an important step in to advancing Rainbow Energy’s purchase of Coal Creek Station,” said North Dakota Senator John Hoeven. “CCUS is a major component of Rainbow Energy’s purchase of Coal Creek, and presents a tremendous opportunity for North Dakota to continue our energy leadership. Carbon capture is Coal Creek’s next chapter and will allow our state to lead the way in deploying the latest, greatest technology, enabling us to continue utilizing our abundant coal resources while reducing emissions.”

GRE, a not-for-profit wholesale electric power cooperative providing power in Minnesota and Wisconsin, projected that the transaction could save its members approximately $130 million compared with shutting down Coal Creek Station. GRE and Rainbow Energy Center say the sale is expected to close later this year, after required approvals are obtained.

“Congratulations to the GRE members who approved this sale and to the leaders and workers of Coal Creek, Falkirk Mine, and Rainbow on their newly-forming partnership," North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer said. "I also want to thank Governor Burgum and Lieutenant Governor Sanford whose leadership helped make this acquisition a reality. Rainbow and Coal Creek are ideal partners who will help keep North Dakota at the forefront of energy production through its use of carbon capture technologies. We can continue our worldwide leadership in air emissions without sacrificing affordability and reliability. I look forward to seeing through that vision at Coal Creek Station.”

GRE announced in May 2020 its plans to retire Coal Creek Station, a 1,151-megwatt generating plant in Underwood, during the second half of 2022. At the time, the Governor’s Office had already been actively engaged in conversations with GRE to transfer or sell Coal Creek Station to third party operators. Burgum announced on March 25, 2021, that GRE was in exclusive negotiations to sell Coal Creek Station and GRE’s high-voltage, direct current transmission system that extends between central North Dakota and Minnesota. The pending sale to Rainbow Energy Center and Nexus Line was announced June 30.