On Friday, Great River Energy (GRE) announced that it will retire its nearly 50-year old Stanton Station coal-fired power plant in early 2017. Located near Stanton, North Dakota on the Missouri River, the 189 megawatt plant represents the 237th coal-fired power plant to be retired nationwide since 2010. “Great River Energy’s decision today to move away from coal is an enormous victory for clean air and energy security in our communities,” said Michelle Rosier, Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in North Dakota. “Today’s decision will put an end to the Stanton Station coal plant’s 50-year legacy of mercury, arsenic, and other toxic pollutants that have threatened the health of North Dakota families. Now, it’s time for Great River Energy to ensure that workers, communities and those impacted by this announcement are not left behind as we transition away from coal.” Great River Energy cited the declining cost and greater availability of cleaner forms of energy, like wind, in its decision to retire the plant, which had reduced its operating capacity in order to avoid greater financial losses in a declining market for coal. Pollution from the plant contributes to six deaths and 97 asthma attacks annually, according to the Clean Air Task Force. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), GRE’s Stanton Station had been responsible for dumping over 1.28 million metric tons of carbon pollution into the air in 2014. The Stanton coal plant had been flagged as uneconomic by clean air and clean energy advocacy organizations in GRE’s 15 year energy planning process. Additional investments in the plant were needed to meet regional clean air safeguards on regional haze. Sierra Club also provided analysis to the North Dakota Department of Health that showed retiring the uneconomic Stanton coal plant would help the state meet its Clean Power Plan carbon pollution reduction target. "Retiring this uneconomic coal unit will save money for GRE's customers in North Dakota and Minnesota, and help cut carbon pollution in North Dakota, a win-win-win for the utility, the states, and customers,” said J. Drake Hamilton, Science Policy Director for Fresh Energy. Coupled with the much larger Coal Creek Station (1100 MW), Stanton Station made Great River Energy one of America’s most carbon-intensive electric utilities, and this voluntary decision will boldly reduce the coal generation assets of GRE by 15%. A July 13 report by Ceres and the Bank of America, Benchmarking Air Emissions of the 100 Largest Electric Power Producers in the United States, ranked Great River Energy's fossil fuel plants as historically America’s eighth most carbon-intensive compared to the fossil fuel fleets of all investor-owned, publicly owned and cooperatively owned electric utilities. “As the cost of wind and solar energy continues to decline, it’s clear that clean energy can and will provide affordable, reliable energy to communities in North Dakota and across our nation. We look forward to working with Great River Energy to ensure a smooth transition away from coal at the Stanton plant, while increasing access to more clean energy in our state,” said Rosier.