Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approves sale of Coal Creek transmission line

The Coal Creek Station will continue to generate electricity for decades to come, thanks to a decision by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to grant unanimous approval for the sale of the transmission line that is part of the operation, according to the Bismarck Tribune.

Getting PUC approval to sell the transmission line was the last hurdle the project needed to clear. Now, Great River Energy will sell the 1,150 megawatt Coal Creek Station to Rainbow Energy.

This is undeniably good news for Minnesota and North Dakota because Coal Creek is the primary energy source for most of Minnesota’s rural electric co-ops. This means they will have access to reliable, affordable energy, even when it gets too cold for wind turbines to function.

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that wind generation plummeted so much during the Polar Vortex of 2021 that the Coal Creek station provided more electricity than all of the wind installed on the regional electric grid, the Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator (MISO), combined.

As I wrote in July, this should never happen because the Coal Creek Station has an installed capacity of only 1,150 megawatts (MW) of capacity, and there were 22,040 MW of installed wind capacity in the MISO footprint during Winter Storm Uri. The fact that one coal plant in North Dakota was able to outproduce all of the wind turbines in MISO is a damning condemnation of the technology.

The PUC should be applauded for approving the sale of the transmission line, even though it took several months longer than it should have. This means Coal Creek Station will keep burning clean, beautiful coal for decades to come, providing good jobs to hardworking North Dakota families while keeping the lights on here in Minnesota.