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Power supplier responds to changing energy market

Coal Creek Station

The rise in renewable generation resources, particularly wind, has created a new energy market and changed the economics of baseload power plants like Great River Energy’s (GRE) Coal Creek Station.

GRE, ECE’s wholesale power supplier, has responded with ingenuity, modifying the 1,146-megawatt Coal Creek facility to respond to influxes of wind. Instead of operating at high outputs 24/7, the plant can now ramp down to less than 300 megawatts, allowing it to reduce production at the right times and remain competitive in today’s market.

GRE engineers and operators were able to accomplish the modifications at moderate cost.

“The roles of baseload and renewables have changed dramatically,” said Great River Energy President and CEO David Saggau. “Coal and natural gas power plants are now called on to be the steadying force in the market.”

Because there is more energy available, market prices have fallen. And, since the output of renewable resources swing up and down depending on the wind, there is a growing need for generation resources that can adjust their output.

“In the past, we wanted to park our power plants at the top,” said Great River Energy Vice President and Chief Generation Officer Rick Lancaster, referring to operating plants at their highest output. “In today’s energy market, there is added value for plants that can reduce output; flexibility is an enviable trait.”

Coal Creek Station is one of the most reliable and cost-efficient power plants in the country. It will continue to play a vital role in the generation of electricity because it ensures reliability in every season.

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