The largest electric cooperative utility in Minnesota announced Monday morning that it wants to end its membership with the power plant operator Great River Energy, a move that follows a clash over whether to sell, or close, a large coal-fired power plant in North Dakota.
Connexus Energy, which serves about 138,000 customers in the north suburbs of Minneapolis, stood out last month as the only one of 28 co-ops served by Great River to vote against Great River’s sale of Coal Creek Station. The sale was strongly supported by state and local officials in North Dakota to preserve jobs but opposed by environmental advocates in Minnesota who oppose extending the use of coal. Under the agreement, Great River’s members will continue to buy power from the plant for 10 years.
Now, Connexus says it wants to change its relationship with its longtime partner because of long-standing concerns about high electricity prices from Great River and a restrictive contract that limits Connexus’ ability to buy its own renewable energy. But this is not a divorce. Connexus wants to continue to be a customer of Great River, which would give it more flexibility than being a member.
[ Dan Gearino ]