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Letter: Discovery Wind will complement coal

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The recent article in The Bismarck Tribune announcing the Discovery Wind project highlights further progress in plans for the positive future of Coal Creek Station and the communities surrounding it. When Rainbow Energy announced its intent to purchase the plant, Rainbow stated wind and baseload power would complement each other to maximize capacity on the High-Voltage Direct Current transmission system built into Minnesota, where the power is ultimately delivered. That statement remains true. One resource will not displace the other; instead, the two sources of electricity will work together. The article incorrectly states, “when the wind farm is producing power that electricity from the wind farm will displace energy from Coal Creek Station.” An important distinction must be made -- wind energy will not displace or take away from Coal Creek Station producing baseload energy. Coal Creek Station is expected to continue to operate and produce baseload power at full capacity even when the Discovery Wind project is operating at full capacity. The story goes on to say, “Rainbow intends to install a system at Coal Creek to capture the plant’s carbon emissions. Operating the technology would eat up a significant amount of electricity the plant produces, freeing up space for wind power on the transmission line.” Implementation of Carbon Capture remains vital to the success of Coal Creek Station, not just to capture CO2 emissions, but to be one of many different options at Rainbow’s disposal to utilize baseload power. This means the plant can continue to run at full capacity during periods of peak wind as well as when the wind doesn’t blow -- baseload power can be easily dispersed on the HVDC system to deliver power where it’s needed. The Discovery Wind project and future projects planned at the plant give Coal Creek Station the flexibility needed to continue to operate and run at a higher capacity in the future, ensuring long-term viability for both Coal Creek Station and the communities in coal country.

Stacy Tschider, president, Rainbow Energy Center and Nexus Line, Bismarck

Carroll Dewing, vice president of operations, North American Coal, Wilton

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