Great River Energy powers up cooperatives along the Great River Road. The utility provides wholesale electricity to 1.7 million people (at 650,000 homes, businesses, and farms) through 28 distribution cooperatives in Minnesota and Wisconsin. It operates more than 4,600 miles of transmission lines and has more than 3,500 MW of capacity from 12 fossil-fueled, hydroelectric, and renewable power generation facilities. The company also owns or partially owns more than 100 transmission substations. Great River Energy is the #2 electric utility in Minnesota, in terms of generating capacity, and one of the top five largest generation and transmission cooperatives in the US (based on assets).
Great River Energy's 28 co-ops have 87,000 miles of distribution line and more than 550 substations. Its largest distribution co-op member serves more than 125,000 consumers while its smallest serves about 2,400 end users.
The company has a plan to add about 1,800 MW of generating resources (including renewable energy) by 2025 to satisfy increasing member demand for electricity. (The State of Minnesota requires utilities to generate 25% of their power from renewable sources by 2025). To support this push, in 2010 Great River Energy signed a 30-year power purchase agreement with NextEra Energy Resources to buy 51 MW of output from a wind farm in North Dakota.
In a related green energy move, in 2011 the company acquired full ownership of Blue Flint Ethanol, which owns a 65-million gallon ethanol refinery that uses process steam produced at Great River Energy Coal Creek Station.
Higher wholesale electric rates and power cost adjustments helped to lift revenues by 2% in 2011, despite weaker sales to third parties due to lower market clearing prices. An increase in property and other taxes kept net income essentially flat for the year.
The utility was formed in 1999 through the combination of two Minnesota utilities, Cooperative Power and United Power Association.
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