Yesterday we got news that Great River Energy is shuttering its Stanton Station coal-fired power plant, putting about 65 people out of a job.
In their announcement the company referenced the rising costs of regulation as one reason for the decision. During an interview with Congressman Kevin Cramer yesterday while I was sitting in for Jay Thomas on WDAY AM970 I asked him if this was a result of the Obama administration’s war on coal.
“That’s certainly part of the formula, Rob,” he said. “You’re right it’s really unfortunate especially for the sixty plus families who are going to lose their jobs and lose their income.”
“We certainly know that coal has fallen out of favor because of the regulations of the left but also because of lower prices of other forms of energy,” he continued.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”This is just the first casualty here in North Dakota,” he continued. “At the current rate of regulation and cost, I think you can expect this to continue to happen.”[/mks_pullquote]
Cramer did note that the Stanton power plant was at some disadvantages. It’s the only coal plant in North Dakota which doesn’t use the state’s abundant lignite coal resources, for instance. It’s also a smaller plant, and an older one to boot.
“Stanton Station is particularly challenging because it’s a smaller plant,” Cramer said. “So it doesn’t have the volume that the bigger plants have. It’s a little harder to make money there. And the fact that it’s a 50 year old plant, we’re modifying it to make compliant with new standards.”
“That said if there were not a war on coal in the regulatory regime there might have been a way to still make it pencil out,” Cramer continued.
Does Stanton Station closing mean North Dakota’s other coal-fired power plants are at risk?
“I don’t think there’s any question that they are,” Cramer said. “One need only look at other parts of the country where coal has been the main baseload energy for decades…where we’ve seen massive mothballing of coal fired power plants.”
“This is just the first casualty here in North Dakota,” he continued. “At the current rate of regulation and cost, I think you can expect this to continue to happen.”
Here’s the full audio: