Great River Energy has reached an agreement in principle with Apex Clean Energy to receive renewable energy from a 400 megawatt (MW) wind energy project in McLean County, North Dakota.
The Discovery Wind project, expected to reach commercial operations in 2025, will be the single largest wind project in North Dakota and will deliver renewable energy over the 436-mile high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) transmission system.
The project will fulfill a significant portion of the renewable energy needs for Great River Energy’s power supply transition and deliver wind energy west of the Twin Cities. The electric cooperative announced in 2020 plans to phase out the remaining coal in its power supply portfolio and more than double its renewable energy.
“We are transforming the way we produce electricity and serve our member-owner cooperatives,” said Great River Energy President and Chief Executive Officer David Saggau. “Our members will enjoy stable wholesale electric rates for years while providing clean and reliable energy to Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin.”
Great River Energy is also converting the coal-based Spiritwood Station power plant located near Jamestown, North Dakota, to be fueled primarily with natural gas and developing a 1 MW, multi-day grid battery in Cambridge, Minnesota.
Great River Energy has long had operations in McLean County through its 1,100 MW Coal Creek Station power plant and the western terminus of the HVDC transmission system. Great River Energy is in the process of selling the power plant and transmission system to Rainbow Energy Center and Nexus Line, respectively. The transaction will be finalized upon approval from Great River Energy’s member-owner cooperatives and progress toward successful implementation of the Discovery Wind project.
The agreement with Apex Clean Energy comes less than two weeks after Great River Energy announced it secured capacity on the HVDC transmission system for renewable energy development. Discovery Wind’s location near an existing power plant provides a unique opportunity to interconnect a very large project to the constrained Midwest electric grid.
“This announcement shows our dedication to being partners in clean energy with Great River Energy, and it delivers on verbal promises we made when we first announced our intent to purchase Coal Creek Station,” said Rainbow Energy Center and Nexus Line President Stacy Tschider. “This is just one of many carbon-neutral objectives we intend to fulfill, culminating with the successful implementation of carbon capture and sequestration at Coal Creek Station.”
Great River Energy’s power supply transition has the cooperative on track to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by more than 80% by 2025, achieving Minnesota’s emissions target decades ahead of schedule.
“Working with Great River Energy, Rainbow Energy Center, and Nexus Line, not only will we deliver clean power to a major market, but we will be able to use capacity on an existing pathway to do so—a rare and valuable arrangement in the saturated MISO market,” said Apex Clean Energy President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Goodwin. “This innovative solution enables the Discovery Wind project, thereby delivering a multitude of benefits to its North Dakota community, including both preserving and creating critical local jobs.”