Inside Clean Energy: With Planned Closing of North Dakota Coal Plant, Energy Transition Comes Home to Rural America

The Coal Creek electric power plant in North Dakota will soon close. Credit: Karen Bleier/AFP via Getty Images Inside Clean Energy Great River Energy has announced it will close the largest coal-fired power plant in North Dakota and replace it with renewable sources, an almost complete overhaul of the way the utility provides electricity to the smaller rural electric cooperatives it serves. The plan made me sit up and take notice because rural electric cooperatives have been slow to move away from coal and embrace renewables. These cooperatives serve only about 12 percent of the nation’s customers, but they operate a disproportionately large share of coal-fired power plants across the country. Great River says it is taking these actions because the coal plant has become too expensive and customers increasingly want renewable energy. Headquartered in the suburbs of Minneapolis, the nonprofit produces electricity and delivers it to 28 rural electric cooperative utilities that have a total of about 700,000 customers. Great River’s announcement comes about a month after another company that serves rural electric cooperatives, Tri-State in Colorado, announced a plan to allow its members to generate more renewable energy. I’m not going to call this a trend quite […]

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