Renewables provide environmental, economic benefits

A foundation of round-the-clock energy sources and strategic additions of wind energy and hydropower have Great River Energy on track for 50 percent renewables by 2030.

Great River Energy’s portfolio of generation resources has evolved over time, reflecting changes in the markets as well as Great River Energy and its member-owner cooperatives’ continued push to provide reliable, affordable and environmentally friendly power.

tapping into local resourcesOver the years, Great River Energy has evolved its portfolio by reducing its energy supply from fossil fuels and increasing its push into energy-efficiency and renewables.

“Today we see significant opportunities in renewable energy that will enable us to grow our business in a cost-effective way,” said Great River Energy Vice President and Chief Power Supply Officer Jon Brekke. “Our member cooperatives increasingly want more renewable energy in their supply and we aim to provide that.”

Great River Energy has exited contracts to receive power from two coal-based power plants and has retired Stanton Station, a coal power plant that served the cooperative’s membership for 50 years. For the first time in the organization’s history, there is more generating capacity from natural gas than coal.

Great River Energy met the requirements of Minnesota’s renewable energy standard eight years early by achieving 25 percent renewables for all-requirements member systems in 2018. The cooperative has set an ambitious new goal of 50 percent renewables by 2030.

Its next big renewable energy undertaking will be the Emmons-Logan wind farm, which will bring 300 megawatts of wind to southern North Dakota by 2020.

“This push to greater renewables helps us stay relevant and competitive in the energy markets of the future,” Brekke said.

Electric cooperatives serve primarily suburban and rural areas—places with room to grow. Because of these changes, Minnesota’s cooperatives and economic development partners can tout a growing renewable portfolio to attract businesses that value clean energy or have their own environmental goals.

“At the end of the day, we remain focused on our mission to provide our members affordable, reliable energy in harmony with a sustainable environment,” Brekke said.