Power plant’s fate: ‘Fight for it’
By Jill Denning Gackle
It’s not time to lay down and roll over, State’s Attorney Ladd Erickson says. “It’s time to stand up and fight.”
Erickson told the Garrison Chamber’s Governmental Affairs Committee Monday, “We need to fight to the last day to keep that plant in some sort of form. He spoke to the group about the potential closing of the Coal Creek Station in Underwood.
Erickson gave the past seven month’s history of his passionate fight to keep the state’s largest coal-fired power plant running past its intended close of 2022. Chamber members voiced support for his efforts.
He said he caught wind in January of the power plant’s potential closing.
After a lot of research and conversations between Erickson and anyone who would listen, McLean County and later Mercer County put a crimp in wind energy’s fate. A 436-mile dedicated power line runs from North Dakota to Minnesota and the Midwest and is capable of moving power long distances; Erickson and other officials moved forward to block the use of the line for additional wind power transmission.
McLean County Commissioners adopted a zoning amendment in the spring prohibiting new wind farm transmission lines within a mile of the Missouri River, Lake Audubon or Lake Sakakawea. That means that new wind farm power lines could not access the substation at Coal Creek and Great River Energy’s transmission line. Mercer County adopted a two-year moratorium on wind development.
The moves weren’t given much support by outsiders.
“We were told we were creating a negative business environment,” Erickson said. But Erickson speaks passionately about the potential “industrializing” of North Dakota with 600-700 acres of wind turbines and power lines. He is concerned about the impact to jobs and recreation.