- Great River Energy will close its Stanton Station coal-fired facility in Mercer County, N.D., explaining that low energy prices in the region have made the plant uneconomic to operate, Minnesota Public Radio reports.
- The plant is small, with one turbine generator rated at 189 MW. The facility began operating in 1966, uses 850,000 tons of coal each year, and operates with 65 employees.
- The utility said it currently has sufficient power capacity to meet its demand without Stanton, but said for future needs it will lean on conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, natural gas and market purchases.
Great River Energy is the latest utility ditching coal-fired generation that is no longer profitable, but the provider stressed in its announcement that it remains engaged with North Dakota's energy sector. The utility will continue to operate the Coal Creek Station power plant, northeast of Stanton, and the Spiritwood Station plant near Jamestown, N.D.
“We remain a committed partner in North Dakota’s energy industry,” Great River President and CEO David Saggau said in a statement.
The utility is also majority owner of Midwest AgEnergy Group, which owns and operates two ethanol plants and related facilities in North Dakota, while also maintaining transmission facilities in the state.
“Stanton Station has provided dependable electricity to Great River Energy’s member cooperatives for 50 years,” said Saggau. “After careful consideration of several alternatives, it became clear that retiring the plant was in the best interest of our member cooperatives."
“We are making every effort to minimize impacts on our employees and the community through this transition,” Saggau said.
In a FAQ addressing the closure, Great River said because it will no longer be paying coal conversion taxes, the utility has agreed to make voluntary payments to the county based on the historic average of the local share of the conversion tax. The company said it would make the payments on a sliding scale over the next five years.
Once decommissioning is complete, the facility will be retired-in-place pending future decisions on site redevelopment. Great River Energy said it will will work with the North Dakota Department of Health "and other state and federal organizations to ensure that Stanton Station is decommissioned in compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements."