MAPLE GROVE, Minn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Over the last seven years, Great River Energy has invested about $300 million to reduce emissions and increase electricity production at its power plants in Minnesota and North Dakota. From 2006 through 2012, Great River Energy increased electricity production by 4 percent, culminating with an all-time record of 11.13 million megawatt hours generated in 2012.
At the same time, Great River Energy significantly increased its purchase of renewable energy, including wind and hydropower. As a result of these purchases and power plant emission reductions, Great River Energy’s emission intensity has dropped significantly. Overall, sulfur dioxide emissions are down by approximately 50 percent; nitrogen oxides, 40 percent; carbon dioxide, 20 percent, and mercury, 10 percent.*
“The power we provide to homes and businesses is as reliable as it has always been; however, we have spent decades discovering ways to make it cleaner on our end,” said Great River Energy President and CEO David Saggau. “We still rely on our coal-fueled power plants, but we have invested heavily in technology – much of which is the first of its kind – that boosts production while reducing emissions.”
Coal Creek Station, the largest power plant owned by Great River Energy, generated a record amount of electricity in 2012 and has seen significant emissions reductions since 2006. The reductions at the Underwood, N.D., facility are primarily attributed to its innovative DryFining™ system, a lignite fuel enhancement technology developed by power plant engineers that refines, or beneficiates, lignite coal through a drying and segregation process. The drying process uses waste heat, while the refining component segregates and removes higher density compounds that contain greater levels of sulfur and mercury. This system was implemented at the power plant in December 2009.
Based on the positive results at Coal Creek Station, Great River Energy is currently working with electric utilities in five countries to evaluate the potential for licensing the DryFining technology at their power plants.
“We have made improvements and wise investments that enable us to generate reliable electricity while reducing the environmental footprint of the company. At the same time we have found innovative ways to reduce the cost of providing competitively priced energy to our 28 member cooperatives,” said Rick Lancaster, vice president, generation, Great River Energy.
By working hard to contain costs and improve efficiencies, Great River Energy yielded impressive financial returns in 2012. Margins exceeded expectations, and Great River Energy refunded more than $5 million to its member cooperatives through a power cost adjustment. For 2013, Great River Energy anticipates its wholesale power rates will be 7.7 percent lower than the weighted regional average wholesale power costs.
*Based on pounds of emissions per megawatt hour of energy produced and purchased.
About Great River Energy
Great River Energy is a not-for-profit cooperative which provides wholesale electric service to 28 distribution cooperatives in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Those member cooperatives distribute electricity to approximately 645,000 member consumers – or about 1.7 million people. With more than $3 billion in assets, Great River Energy is the second largest electric power supplier in Minnesota and one of the largest generation and transmission cooperatives in the United States. Great River Energy’s member cooperatives range from those in the outer-ring suburbs of the Twin Cities to the Arrowhead region of Minnesota to the farmland of southwestern Minnesota. Great River Energy’s largest distribution cooperative serves more than 125,000 member-consumers; the smallest serves about 2,500. Learn more at greatriverenergy.com
Great River Energy
Therese LaCanne, 763-445-5710