Minnesota co-ops served by Great River Energy Transmission line to vote this week on sale of Coal Creek Station. Could it destroy the deal?

Failure isn't fatal, but failure to change might be." --John Wooden

Back on June 30th Doug Burgum was riding the wave of relief and sucking in the sunshine.  A deal was being brokered between Great Energy and Rainbow Energy Center.  Rainbow hasn't owned a power plant, nor have they shoveled coal. But for one dollar they'd be willing to take a chance of buying Coal Creek Station. Shoot you could sell it for scrap for more then a buck!!  Inside Climate News reports...

Gov. Doug Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford today applauded the sale of Coal Creek Station to Rainbow Energy Center LLC as a landmark moment for the future of energy production in North Dakota and the culmination of more than a year of determined efforts by the administration and others to save the state’s largest power plant, preserving critical baseload power and hundreds of jobs.

Between the Coal Creek Crew and the nearby power plant dependent Falkirk Mine staff- there's the neighborhood of 700 jobs in the region on the line.  Those are voters, and it was an election year, and the politicians took their proper positions. From Grand Forks Herald.

Among their most significant steps, lawmakers passed House Bill 1412, signed into law by Gov. Doug Burgum on April 23, providing a five year "tax holiday" to the coal industry totaling more than $100 million. An earlier version of that bill outlined a somewhat smaller tax break, but lawmakers scaled it up toward the end of the session.

So that's a heck of an incentive to invest in coal- in at least the immediate future.  But what if the transfer of property wasn't up to Rainbow Energy and their one dollar investment? Or up to Great River Energy and their desire to unload the cash bleeding Coal Creek Station?

“I understand that we cannot wait another 10 years to start closing coal plants,” she said.

In an interesting twist, the Associate Press reports- what if the sale was in fact...also contingent on the endorsement of many Minnesota Cooperatives that may rather simply shut down the plant rather than sell it for a dollar.

Maple Grove-based Great River supplies electricity to 28 rural Minnesota cooperatives, serving about 1.7 million people.

Company spokeswoman Therese LaCanne said the cooperatives have been holding meetings throughout July to discuss the sale. Two-thirds of the cooperatives must endorse the sale of the plant and transmission line, she said. A separate vote is required for the plan to purchase power from the 1,150-megawatt plant over the next 10 years.

“I anticipate we’ll know the outcome by the end of Friday,” LaCanne said.

They have to approve the sale and in a different vote, the agreement to purchase coal produced power over the next ten years. There's a reason we're going down this road in the first place- Minnesota no longer want our dirty coal energy.

Coal-fueled power plants in western North Dakota historically have provided a major share of Minnesota’s electric supply.

But that was then, and this is now.  Is it also about cost?  OF COURSE IT IS!  Always follow the money.

Coal Creek Station had become an economic sinkhole for Great River because the costs of generating electricity there were much higher than the equivalent costs on the regional market. The low price of natural gas along with low prices of wind power had helped to drive down wholesale electricity prices to the point that coal couldn’t compete.

So if the sale of Coal Creek Station depends on Minnesota Co-ops still having to take some of our dirty coal power for the next ten years- the climate activists in Minnesota could blow up this whole darn deal.

We'll know soon.

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