Skip to main content

Energy News Network:

A decade-long shift from coal to wind power is helping to stabilize rates for Minnesota’s largest generation and transmission cooperative.

Great River Energy isn’t alone among consumer-owned utilities forgoing rate increases for 2022, but the power wholesaler is unique in the region for crediting its clean energy transition for leveling off its prices.

“Wholesale rate stability is incredibly important to our member systems in greater Minnesota that are seeing sharp increases in other costs,” Great River Energy President and CEO David Saggau said. The utility sells power to 28 local utilities, 20 of which will see declining rates this year.

Although Minnesota’s investor-owned utilities have sought rate increases, University of Minnesota associate professor Gabe Chan warns comparing them to generation and transmission cooperatives is challenging because they operate on different business models. Clean energy, he said, has been good for all utilities. 

“I’ve got a bunch of studies showing that clean energy is keeping the energy costs low, and more wind and solar are just going to keep those energy costs lower and lower,” Chan said.

Great River Energy has been able to take advantage of low-cost wind energy contracts to lower power supply costs, a common strategy among utilities in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator market, he said. A significant demand management program the utility operates also helps drive down costs during times of day when electricity use is high, Chan said.

[Frank Jossi]

More: A Minnesota co-op credits clean energy transition for stabilizing wholesale rates

Join our newsletter

Keep up to date with all the latest from IEEFA