Basin Electric's power generation mix is changing

Aug 16, 2016

Basin Electric Power Cooperative said its sources of fuel to generate power have changed quite a bit since the year 2000.

Basin senior legislative representative Dale Niezwaag said in 2000, 85 percent of electricity generated by the co-op came from coal, with 10 percent hydropower, and the rest from oil, diesel and wind.

And by the end of this year...

"We'll have about 24 percent of our portfolio as renewable," Niezwaag said. "About 23 percent of that is wind."

The rest of that mix: 46 percent coal and 19 percent natural gas.

Niezwaag said the current regulatory climate means coal plants are hard to get permitted – so Basin will likely add more wind and natural gas to meet a growing demand.

"When you look at the next 20 years, we're looking at growth of about 1600 megawatts," Niezwaag said. "In the next 4 to 5 years, it will be a 600 megawatt growth. Almost 80 percent of that is in western North Dakota."

While Basin owns some wind farms, it's now working out power purchase agreements with other wind developers. Niezwaag said that’s because of the production tax credit for wind power.

"We don't have a lot of tax liability, so tax credits don't do us much good," Niezwaag said. "When you look at buying power on a purchase power contract, there are companies that can use those tax credits. They put that into the price of wind, which lowers the price to us."