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North Dakota to loan $115M to carbon capture ventures, including Project Tundra

The Industrial Commission approved a $100 million low-interest loan for Project Tundra, Minnkota Power Cooperative's ambitious $1.45 billion carbon capture venture.

Minnkota Power Cooperative's Milton Young Station, located near Center, N.D., burns lignite coal to generate electricity for customers in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. Photo special to Forum News Service.
Minnkota Power Cooperative's Milton Young Station, located near Center, North Dakota, burns lignite coal to generate electricity for customers in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.
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BISMARCK — The North Dakota Industrial Commission on Monday, May 23, approved loans and grants worth more than $115 million for three projects aiming to use an emerging but unproven technology to store carbon dioxide underground.

Following the recommendation of the newly established Clean Sustainable Energy Authority, the three-member commission approved a $100 million low-interest loan for Project Tundra, Minnkota Power Cooperative's ambitious $1.45 billion carbon capture venture. The Grand Forks-based cooperative had originally requested a $150 million loan.

The project aims to retrofit a central North Dakota coal plant for carbon capture, which would slash the plant's harmful greenhouse emissions.

Gov. Doug Burgum, the Industrial Commission's chairman, said the project is "obviously super significant" and applauded the loaning out of state funds to help Minnkota's plan become a reality. Burgum and other state leaders have hailed carbon capture technology as a revitalizing force for the state's coal industry.

State lawmakers created the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority and a $250 million low-interest loan program last year, and top budget writers didn't hide the fact that some or all of the funding was meant for Project Tundra.

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Minnkota spokesman Ben Fladhammer told Forum News Service the nine-figure loan shows the state's visionary support for a transformational technology.

The co-op is planning to make a decision by the end of the year about whether to go forward with construction on the project, Fladhammer noted. If the project fades, the state's loan would go back to the authority.

The estimated cost of the project has increased nearly $500 million over earlier projections due to supply chain limitations. Minnkota has indicated it may seek more funding from the authority in the future.

The Industrial Commission also approved a $15 million loan for Midwest AgEnergy Group's carbon capture project at an ethanol plant in McLean County and a $1 million grant for an oilfield carbon capture project run by Enerplus Resources.

The commission approved in December the authority's first round of funding recommendations, providing $28 million in grants and $135 million in loans to six projects. Project Tundra was not among the initial winners of funding.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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