N.D. coal production steady, electricity prices lowest in country

North Dakota’s five lignite mines produced 26.7 million tons of lignite coal in 2022, up marginally from 2021. Lignite coal is a low-cost fuel source for in-state electricity generation stations which produced some of the lowest-cost electricity in the nation in the same year.

“North Dakota’s coal fleet is unique in that our power plants are located near the mines,” said Lignite Energy Council president and CEO Jason Bohrer. “Having the fuel source and its generating station so close, it all but eliminates transportation costs associated with fuel source and keeps North Dakota’s electricity prices low and stable.”

Prices were so low, in fact, that North Dakota’s boasted the country’s lowest-cost residential and commercial electricity rates in December 2022, one of the state’s coldest on record. According to data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), North Dakota enjoys the lowest-cost or among the lowest residential, commercial, and industrial electricity of in the nation each month. North Dakota’s average per kilowatt-hour electricity price for December 2022 was 9.62 cents per kilowatt-hour, up only slightly from the previous year’s 9.36 cents per kilowatt-hour. Comparatively, in California, the price per kilowatt-hour increased from 23.38 cents per kilowatt-hour to 24.46 cents per kilowatt-hour.

North Dakota’s power plants sell electricity into energy marketplaces managed by multi-state independent system operators. Basin Electric is a member of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), and the other utilities are members of the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO).

The state’s highest coal production came from The Freedom Mine north of Beulah, N.D. The mine is the largest lignite producer in the United States and sold 13.4 million tons to the Dakota Gasification Company’s Great Plains Synfuels Plant, Basin Electric’s Antelope Valley Station, and the Leland Olds Station.

North Dakota’s second-largest lignite mine is the Falkirk Mine near Underwood, N.D., and sold 7.5 million tons to serve the Coal Creek Station owned by Rainbow Energy, and the Spiritwood Station owned by Great River Energy. BNI Coal Ltd.’s Center Mine near Center, N.D. sold nearly 3.8 million tons to Minnkota Power Cooperative’s Milton R. Young Station. The Coyote Creek Mine produced 1.8 million tons for the adjacent Coyote Station south of Beulah, N.D.

The Lignite Energy Council is a regional trade association representing North Dakota lignite producers, electric utilities, and more than 200 businesses providing goods and services to the mines and plants. The lignite industry generates approximately $5.75 billion in gross business volume and facilitates 12,000 direct and indirect jobs within the state.