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North Dakota power plant sale in front of state regulators

August 7, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The pending sale of a financially troubled coal-fueled power plant in North Dakota is now in the hands of state regulators, who need to sign off on several permits so that the incoming owners can operate it.

Affiliates of Rainbow Energy Marketing Corp. seek to purchase from Great River Energy the Coal Creek Station plant and an associated transmission line that runs from the plant’s location in central North Dakota to Minnesota. Great River supplies electricity to 28 rural Minnesota cooperatives, serving about 1.7 million people.

The companies have applied for permit transfers from the North Dakota Public Service Commission related to the transmission line and a water pipeline, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

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The commission is slated to hold an informal hearing Aug. 18 to discuss the matter, particularly with Rainbow Energy, Public Service Commissioner Randy Christmann said.

“This company is new to working with us,” Christmann said, adding that the group doesn’t have a “background dealing with reclamation or siting” in North Dakota.

The Sierra Club, a San Francisco-based group that wants to curb the use of fossil fuels, has been critical of the sale and has argued the process “lacked transparency and engagement.”

Rainbow Energy is based in Bismarck and manages power and natural gas assets for clients within the utility sector.

Coal Creek is in McLean County between Washburn and Underwood. It began operating in 1979.