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).
The company provides power to cooperatives, which in turn serve customers in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Great River Energy's 28 co-ops have 88,000 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 2,500 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 revenues increased by 6% to $980.4 million in 2013 primarily due to a growth in member energy and demand unit sales of 3% and 1.8%, respectively, and a wholesale rate increase.
The company’s net income decreased by 6% to $42.8 million primarily due to higher utility operating expenses resulting for an increase in power and fuel costs and higher maintenance and depreciation costs.
In 2013 Great River Energy's operating cash inflow increased to $132.2 million (from $102.1 million 2012) due to increased working capital.
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.
In 2014 Manitoba Hydro and Great River Energy also agreed to investigate the sale of up to 600MW) of electricity from Manitoba Hydro to Great River Energy, commencing in 2020. An eventual agreement could take advantage of a new Manitoba to Minnesota transmission line also proposed as part of Manitoba Hydro’s preferred development plan.
That year Great River Energy announced plans to construct 650 kW of new solar energy installations by mid-2015. The first construction project is a 250 kW solar array slated for land south of Great River Energy’s headquarters facility and will include a mix of technologies to help determine how solar energy installations can be integrated into cooperative systems. The remaining 400 kW may include up to 20 individual projects located in its member cooperatives’ systems across the state.
In 2013 the company signed a deal with Tangshan Shenzhou Manufacturing Company to make Great River Energy's DryFining technology (for more efficient coal use in power stations) available to utilities in China.
It is also cut costs and increasing efficiency at its own power plants. In 2012 these measures saved Great River Energy more than $8 million.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In 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.