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Coal Creek station, plus high-voltage power line, sale closes

Dave Thompson

A celebration at the Coal Creek Station power plant near Underwood Monday (5-2-22).

Bismarck-based Rainbow Energy Marketing has purchased the 1100 kilowatt plant from Great River Energy of Minnesota. An accompanying high voltage, direct current power line is a part of the sale.

In 2019, Great River announced it would close the plant, unless a buyer could be found.

The power line was purchased by Nexus Line — a part of Rainbow Energy.

Rainbow Energy President Stacy Tschider made the announcement.

As part of the deal, Rainbow is keeping the employees of both the power plant and of the Falkirk Mine, which supplies the lignite. Tschider addressed the 450 Falkirk and 200 Coal Creek employees.

"You are the best-of-the best — hard-working, committed and innovative," Tschider said during a celebration at the plant. "That mind-set will be so important as we move in a new direction."

So what does it mean for McLean County and coal country?

"It's jobs — it's long-term security," said McLean County Commissioner Steve Lee. "These employees hold important jobs. They staff our ambulance services and our fire departments. They keep our schools operating. Some spouses work in hospitals."

Lee said it's very important to have those businesses in the county.

"Quit honestly, Coal Creek Station, in my opinion at least, is critical to national energy security," Lee said.

Great River is planning to convert its electricity production toward renewables. The high voltage line will have capacity for power from a big wind farm proposed in that area.

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