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Coal Creek Station is North Dakota’s largest power plant. The plant features two units with a total generation capacity of more than 1,100 megawatts. It is located about 50 miles north of Bismarck, North Dakota, near the city of Underwood.
It is one of the most reliable and cost-efficient power plants in the country. The plant started generating electricity from Unit 1 in 1979 and from Unit 2 in 1980. The electricity generated from Coal Creek Station is delivered to our member owners over a high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system that runs a distance of 436 miles. The plant has more than 200 employees, making it one of the largest employers in McLean County.
Coal Creek Station uses roughly 22,000 tons of lignite per day, or about 7.5 to 8.0 million tons per year, supplied by the adjoining Falkirk Mine.
Coal burns. Water doesn’t. That is the founding principle behind DryFining™, a lignite fuel enhancement system which includes both drying and refining lignite. As a result of our research efforts and our partnerships with other companies, Great River Energy is DryFining all of the coal used at Coal Creek Station.
High-pressure steam drives the advanced multi-state turbines to power the generators. Water is turned into steam as it flows through tubes that form the walls of the plant’s massive furnaces (205 feet tall). The steam is superheated to a temperature higher than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and then it is released as high-pressure steam into the turbines. With most of its energy spent powering the turbines, lower pressure steam is recaptured, cooled, condensed and sent back to the boiler. A sophisticated control center, staffed around the clock, monitors the plant’s every function.
Great River Energy considers no phase of operation or administration as being of greater importance than the safety and well being of its employees. It’s our policy to provide the necessary resources to maintain safe and healthful working conditions and to follow operating practices that will safeguard all employees.
Coal Creek Station was the first power plant in the United States to become registered to the Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHS S) 18001 standard. The purpose of the OHS S program is to promote overall safety, improve personal safety, and conduct third-party audits of safety and safety training programs.
Approximately $200 million has been invested in environmental equipment since the plant began operations in order to ensure the best available technology. This helps maintain Coal Creek Station’s status as one of the cleanest coal-fired power plants in the region. Despite that, Great River Energy continues to look for ways to further reduce emissions at Coal Creek Station.
Protecting the environment has always been a priority at Coal Creek Station. For example, in 1998, the plant received International Organization for Standardization 14001 certification of its environmental management system. As a certified plant, Coal Creek Station has an environmental management system in place to continuously evaluate and improve environmental performance.
In addition, Coal Creek Station has installed additional controls to substantially reduce sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury emissions.
In the adjacent coal fields, all mined land is reclaimed at a cost of $20,000 per acre, with restored cropland required to equal or exceed original production.
As a result of all these efforts, both Coal Creek Station and the Falkirk Mine have been recognized time and again for excellence in environmental stewardship.
Coal Creek Station supports Bismarck State College’s Power Plant Technology Program. Through this program, students learn all phases of the industry, including how to operate, repair and maintain all types of power plant equipment. Coal Creek Station employs a number of graduates of this program.
Blue Flint is a 70-million-gallon-per-year dry mill biorefinery located next to Coal Creek Station. It is owned by Midwest AgEnergy.