Great River Energy (GRE) has announced plans to prematurely retire its Coal Creek Station power plant in Underwood, North Dakota, in the second half of 2022 and modify the Spiritwood Station power plant in Jamestown, North Dakota, to be fueled with natural gas. The power plant is the sole customer of The Falkirk Mining Co., a subsidiary of North American Coal.

GRE said it is willing to consider opportunities to sell Coal Creek Station, so North American Coal said it is actively engaged in the exploration of options to allow for the transfer of the plant to one or more third parties. This would preserve jobs at both Coal Creek Station and the Falkirk mine, North American Coal said.

GRE and Falkirk Mining have been contract partners since 1974 under an agreement to provide fuel to the 1,151-megawatt (MW) Coal Creek Station power plant through 2045.

“We believe Coal Creek Station is an efficient, economic, and attractive generation and capacity asset, and the continued long-term operation of the facility is in the best interest of our employees, the local community, region and state,” North American Coal President J.C. Butler said.

Falkirk Mining currently employs 480 miners and in 2019 delivered 7.4 million tons of lignite coal to the Coal Creek Station, a modest number of which were then shipped to Spiritwood Station.