The resource portfolio of Minnkota Power Cooperative, CCEC’s power supplier, is fueled by a diverse energy supply of North Dakota homegrown energy. We know that an all-of-the-above energy strategy will continue to provide responsible, affordable, and reliable energy. Renewable resources are an essential piece of our generation mix. Still, they are only a piece of the puzzle. Our baseload lignite coal generation remains a vital resource to ensure that we meet our mission "to serve our members' energy needs with affordable and reliable electricity." The most realistic way to plan for a reliable and robust energy future is to find the right balance of all our resources.
Coal represents approximately 55% of Minnkota's electric generation capacity. Coal-fired generation occurs at two sites – the Milton R. Young Station and the Coyote Station.
The Milton R. Young Station is a crucial source of electrical generation for Minnkota and its members. Named for the late senator from North Dakota, the Young Station is a two-unit, lignite coal-based power plant near Center, N.D.
Young 1, which began generating electricity in 1970, is owned and operated by Minnkota. It has the capacity to produce 250,000 kilowatts (kW). Young 2, with a 455,000 kW generating capacity, began producing electricity in 1977. It is owned by Square Butte Electric Cooperative and operated by Minnkota. An abundant, low-cost coal supply from the nearby Center Mine, owned and operated by BNI Coal, has played a vital role in the plant's success.
The Young Station uses cooling water from Nelson Lake, a 2.5-mile-long, man-made reservoir created in 1968 with a 45-foot-high, earth-filled dam across Square Butte Creek. The 660-surface-acre lake provides water for cooling, boiler makeup, and other station uses in the power production process. All water used in plant processes is tested and treated to confirm that its quality meets all standards for discharge. The lake is a popular spot with fishing and outdoor enthusiasts.
The Coyote Station is a single-unit, lignite coal-based power plant located near Beulah, N.D. The plant, which came online in 1981, has a nameplate rating of 427,000 kW and is operated by Otter Tail Power Company.
Northern Municipal Power Agency owns a 30% share of the plant. Minnkota serves as the operating agent for NMPA. The other plant owners are Otter Tail, Montana-Dakota Utilities, and North Western Energy. The plant receives lignite coal from the nearby Coyote Creek Mine, owned and operated by North American Coal.
Both units at the Young Station and the Coyote Station are equipped with emissions control technologies that meet or exceed all current state and federal air quality standards. More than $425 million was invested into the plant to reduce emissions significantly.
Minnkota and its members have been at the forefront of wind energy development in North Dakota, comprising 34% of the capacity portfolio. The first two commercial-scale wind turbines in the state's history were built through Minnkota's Infinity Renewable Energy Program near Petersburg and Valley City. The success of those first turbines jumpstarted efforts to harness the area's abundant wind energy capabilities. Minnkota now partners with NextEra Energy Resources to purchase additional wind power from turbines near Langdon, Valley City, and Center. Presently, Minnkota purchases energy from North Dakota wind resources with a total nameplate generating capacity of 457 megawatts (MW).
A portion (8%) of Minnkota's power is generated from Garrison Dam, an earth-fill embankment dam on the Missouri River in central North Dakota. Construction on the dam began in 1947 and was completed in 1954. The dam includes five electric generating units with a collective capacity of 583,300 kW.
The electricity generated by the Garrison Dam is marketed through the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA). WAPA is one of four power-marketing administrations within the U.S. Department of Energy. Minnkota has been purchasing Garrison Dam power from WAPA since 1955. Currently, Minnkota has an allotment of energy from the project equivalent to approximately 109,000 kW.