In One Year, ND To Lose A Thousand Coal Related Jobs.
It's far from breaking news, but it is heart breaking news.
Just north of Bismarck, Coal Creek Station is looking for a buyer, and unfortunately prospects are slim and time is running out.
The plant's owner, Great River Energy, which generates power for 700,000 people in Minnesota, said it will shut the Coal Creek plant in the second half of 2022, years ahead of schedule. It will replace most of the energy with new wind farms.
So Great River Energy is out of the picture. The Coal Creek Station has been losing money for years and at that rate was simply unsustainable. Hard to believe with the advantages the plant has- it's only a little over 40 years old, it has an adjacent coal mine for easy access to fuel, an incredible work force, and a dedicated direct-current transmission line. That transmission line is the one thing Coal Creek has that so many energy producers desire. That line goes directly from the station to Minneapolis, wind farm companies would love to take advantage of that ease of delivery. Regional politics are making sure no deals are done until all avenues to keep the station running have been exhausted.
It's not simply an alternative energy versus coal argument, it's always about the money. Because of the availability of the transmission line, even Great River Energy was looking into building a wind farm surrounding the plant.
Great River Energy, in fact, wanted to build huge wind farms around Coal Creek — a combined generating capacity of 800 megawatts — to take advantage of that transmission line.
Those in the region were wary of wind farms further eroding the sustainability of the coal plant, so they introduced road blocks to hamper further development of wind farms over the next few years in McLean and Mercer counties. Which heavily factored into Great River Energy dropping their wind farm plans in the area. So what motivation could there be in maintaining Coal Creek when industry analysis estimated closing the plant could save it's members $60 million a year.
The effects of a closure are nothing short of catastrophic for so many surrounding communities. But if a hero doesn't ride into the plant in the next few months, that's the future we're facing.
It really isn't coal versus wind/natural gas/solar suppliers- it's coal versus cash. Even with the advantages the plant seemed to have, the battle may soon be coming to a close.
Keep holding out for a hero y'all.