Steve Molenaar: Coal Creek Station sale is wrong

Surprise decision was made to sell Coal Creek Station, instead of shutting it down.

Reader Opinion letter

Without warning, the surprise decision was made to sell Coal Creek Station , instead of shutting it down.

Coal Creek is a 1.2-gigawatt coal-fired power plant operated by Great River Energy , of which our Kandiyohi Power Cooperative is a member. Last year, Great River announced Coal Creek’s upcoming closure in 2022, citing losses of $170 million in 2019, plus projected future losses.

There are other compelling reasons for closing Coal Creek.

It’s the third-most-polluting plant in the U.S. in coal waste, eighth-worst in mercury emissions, and it releases about 11 gigatons of CO2 annually.

Consider where Minnesota stands in its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act, set greenhouse gas reduction goals of 15 percent by 2015. We missed 2015’s goal by 13 gigatons and emissions are currently increasing, not decreasing.


This 13-gigaton shortfall is roughly the same as that released annually by Coal Creek. Closing it would almost reach our goal.

Great River has now reversed their decision to close the plant and intends to sell it, but with a requirement that we must purchase its coal-generated power for another 10 years.

Connexus, the largest of the 28 member coops, voted against the deal for three reasons: the expected $28 million savings from closing the plant would decrease to $20 million, the proposed carbon capture plans for cutting emissions were speculative and would consume about 30% of the power generated, and dependability of the electric grid did not depend on keeping the plant running.

The only beneficiary of the sale is the coal lobby.

The board of Kandiyohi Power Co-op voted to sell Coal Creek and to commit us to 10 more years of coal power. This is contrary to the interests of its members for the reasons that Connexus voted against it, and for reasons given in the latest IPCC climate report.

It warns that our CO2 emissions are bringing us more frequent and intense heatwaves, storms, wildfires, and droughts.

It is irresponsible to keep Coal Creek running. Tell them, and then complain to your state representatives and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission .

Steve Molenaar



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