Hoeven: BNI Starts Mining Under New Coal Lease at Center

Senator Secured Regulatory Approvals, Saves $35 Million for Ratepayers

CENTER, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today met with BNI Coal General Manager Mike Heger and Minnkota Power Cooperative CEO Mac McLennan to discuss and tour the operations of BNI’s new coal lease area at the Center Mine. The operations are able to move forward due to Hoeven’s efforts to secure needed regulatory approval, which prevented $35 million in costs from being imposed on homeowners and businesses through higher electricity prices. Specifically, Hoeven worked to advance the approval of federal mine plans that enable BNI to develop the new section, preventing significant cost increases that would have burdened the company’s operations, as well as that of Minnkota Power Cooperative’s Milton R. Young Station:

  • The new plans were needed to allow mining of federal coal under a lease awarded in January 2021.
  • Last year, Hoeven convened a meeting between Minnkota, BNI and Department of the Interior (DOI) officials to make the case for timely approvals of mine plans.
    • The senator stressed the importance of preventing further energy price increases on American consumers and maintaining the affordability and reliability of the grid.
  • The senator also secured a commitment from DOI Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau to expedite the plan’s review.
  • Without approval, BNI and Minnkota would have needed to make and implement costly contingency plans to move the drag line and develop other portions of the mine.
    • Securing approval not only prevents increased electricity prices across the region, it supports the development of Project Tundra and the coal-fired electric industry of the future.

“Securing approval for the operations under BNI’s new coal lease area is about ensuring access to affordable and reliable baseload power for homes and businesses that remains available 24/7, regardless of weather conditions. In particular, preventing these $35 million in cost increases were key as we continue working to advance the coal-fired electric industry of the future through Project Tundra,” said Senator Hoeven. “We’ve put in place important tools, like 45Q and loan guarantees, to help coal-based projects get off the ground, and we continue working to make this technology a reality to promote U.S. energy security and ensure a continued role for coal in our nation’s energy mix.”

Advancing the Coal-Fired Electric Industry of the Future

Project Tundra is a major carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) project being developed at the Milton R. Young Station, a 700-megawatt coal-fired power plant that provides baseload electricity in North Dakota and Minnesota. The senator has worked for 15 years to establish North Dakota’s leadership in CCUS to help ensure the future of the state’s coal industry and promote the affordability and reliability of the grid.

Hoeven’s efforts include securing $43 million in federal funding for the project to date, as well as loan guarantees and the 45Q tax credit to help make coal-fired CCUS projects commercially-viable. Earlier this year, Minnkota announced that Project Tundra has entered its final stage of development as new affiliates, including TC Energy, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kiewit, were added to build the project.