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. Most of the company's power comes from coal with hydro, renewable, and natural gas making up the rest.
As part of its efforts to increase its green energy output, Great River owns Blue Flint Ethanol, which includes a 65-million gallon ethanol refinery that uses process steam produced at Great River Energy Coal Creek Station.
Great River Energy's revenue for 2012 increased by about 7% as it collected more from its member coops due to a planned rate increase. Net income rose 44% due to a drop in purchased electricity because it was producing more of its own. Since it's a coop, Great River refunded $5 million to its members through a cost cut on power prices.
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, Great River Energy has a 30-year power purchase agreement with NextEra Energy Resources to buy 51 MW of output from a wind farm in North Dakota.
It also cut costs and increased efficiency at its plants, something it plans to continue. In 2012 these measures saved Great River more than $8 million.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In early 2012 Great River bought the remaining 51% of Blue Flint Ethanol it didn't already own. The move added to its production capabilities and helped push the company to record production that year.
The utility was formed in 1999 through the combination of two Minnesota utilities, Cooperative Power and United Power Association.
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