Changes to the energy portfolio of Great River Energy will not affect the operations of its Spiritwood Station or its ability to provide waste steam energy to Dakota Spirit AgEnergy or other potential projects in the Spiritwood Energy Park Association industrial park, according to Jon Brekke, Great River Energy vice president and chief power supply officer.

GRE announced Thursday that it is changing the list of equipment, or portfolio, that it uses to generate electricity. The new portfolio eliminates the company's coal-fired generation capacity and replaces it with wind energy. The change also includes repowering its Spiritwood Station, a 99-megawatt coal-fired generating plant at Spiritwood, North Dakota, to utilize natural gas as a fuel.

GRE is a cooperative owned by electrical cooperatives in Minnesota. The change in sources for the company's electricity is expected to reduce the cost of electricity to its customers and the company's carbon emissions.

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Construction on Spiritwood Station began in 2007 and was completed in 2011 at a cost of $425 million. When the plant was brought online in 2014, it was said to be the first coal-fired generating plant commissioned in North Dakota in more than 30 years. The plant produces up to 99 megawatts of electricity as well as waste steam used as energy at Dakota Spirit AgEnergy, a fuel ethanol plant located at the adjacent Spiritwood Energy Park Association.

"Repowering Spiritwood Station to burn natural gas rather than coal will be done with the current staff," Brekke said. "The plant will continue to meet its commitments to provide energy to Dakota Spirit AgEnergy or other possible future tenants to the Spiritwood Energy Park."

Connie Ova, CEO of the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. and the Spiritwood Energy Park Association, said the change is a non-factor to the business operations in the region.

Ova said the area had enough natural gas pipeline capacity to serve Spiritwood Station including natural gas lines that had served the Cargill Malt plant which closed in 2018.

David Saggau, Great River Energy president and CEO, said the changes were intended to reduce the company's carbon dioxide emissions by 95% from its baseline 2005 emission level.

Portfolio changes include decommissioning Coal Creek Station, an 1,100-megawatt coal-fired generating plant at Underwood, in 2022 and adding a similar amount of wind energy capacity to the system by 2023. The company is also planning a long-duration battery demonstration project in Minnesota to hold electricity for use as needed.