Basin Electric

Tracie Bettenhausen / Basin Electric

The general manager of Basin Electric Power Cooperative said coal is facing continued challenges in the marketplace.

Paul Sukut said the challenge is coal’s competitiveness – by other sources, such as wind and natural gas.

"Our members made an investment 30 years ago in those coal plants," Sukut said in an interview with Prairie Public. "They still have debt, and they do have economic life. So we're challenges to try and tease as much economic life as we can out of them."

Sukut said in some cases, it may mean temporarily taking coal plants off-line.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative

The General Manager of Basin Electric Power Cooperative calls it an “evolution” for the Great Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah.

The plant -- which was called the Dakota Coal Gasification plant, was built during a time of a natural gas shortage to convert lignite coal to synthetic natural gas.

Basin GM Paul Sukut said in a few weeks, a new urea fertilizer plant will start operating there.

The plant has been in the works for a few years. And now, Sukut said it’s ready to go.

Coal Plants Adapt To Follow Demand

Aug 2, 2017
Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

Facing competition from renewables and cheap natural gas, coal-fired power plants are learning they must adjust to survive.

For decades, many coal plants burned coal as fast as their facilities could handle.

"The best way they operate is you turn them on, you run them up as high as you can, and you let them run for days," said Dale Niezwaag, vice president of government relations for Basin Electric Power Cooperative.


Basin Electric "optimistic" after a rocky 2016

Nov 11, 2016
Courtesy Basin Electric

The general manager of Bismarck-based Basin Electric Power Cooperative says fiscal year 2016 has been a challenging year.

Basin is a generation and transmission cooperative, providing power to member co-ops in a multi-state region.

Paul Sukut said it began with the the co-op looking at the ramifications from the “clean power plan" – which would affect Basin’s coal-fired generation. Then, the Great Plains Synfuels Plant – which produces synthetic natural gas and other byproducts – saw prices for its products fall. And the winter was warm.

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.

Basin Electric welcomes Supreme Court EPA ruling

Jul 1, 2015

Officials with Basin Electric Power Cooperative say they’re happy with the US Supreme Court’s ruling that the federal EPA didn’t properly take into account the costs for utilities to comply with power plant emissions limits.

Basin’s Steve Tomac says while Basin already implemented compliance on the EPA’s mercury emissions rule, this ruling sets a precedent.

The Public Service Commission has approved three projects that could bring more power to northwestern North Dakota.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative is adding a 28 mile long high voltage power line, and two substations. Those would serve an area around Watford City. Basin has also been okayed for expansions of its Pioneer Generating Station near Williston, and the Lonesome Creek Station in McKenzie County. Both use natural gas for electric generation.

'Brand camp' for co-ops

Sep 10, 2014

Electric cooperatives from the Dakotas and western Minnesota gathered in Bismarck – for what was called “brand camp.”

Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Touchstone Energy are co-sponsoring it. They say with the changing demographics of co-op members, it’s time to reconnect with members – and emphasize the importance of the co-ops.

The chairman of North Dakota’s Public Service Commission says he doesn’t see the need to wait for a federal environmental impact statement before the Commission would give its approval to a route for a controversial high voltage power line in western North Dakota.

The Public Service Commission has okayed Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s plans to add two more 45-megawatt natural gas turbines to its Lonesome Creek station near Watford City.

That brings to 135 megawatts the amount of power from that station. It’s a “peaking” plant – that will not be running all the time, but will kick in as needed.