Energy

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

It was a number of years in the making – but MDU will be bringing natural gas to the Bobcat plant in Gwinner.

MDU will build a 21 mile pipeline from the existing Alliance pipeline – and that will bring natural gas to Gwinner,  Milnor and other cities in Sargent County. Bobcat has signed a 15 year agreement to use the natural gas.

“”This was a bridge too far,” Doosan Bobcat North America President Rich Goldsbury said during a ceremony at the Bobcat plant in Gwinner. “This was something we didn’t think we could make happen. But, god darn it, we got it to happen.”

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Public Service Commission and the owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline have reached a settlement over some reported problems with the company following the siting permit the PSC issued for the pipeline.

The problems included taking out more trees and shrubs along the route than outlined in the permit. Also, Energy Transfer Partners re-routed a part of the line away from cultural resources. The company notified the State Historic Preservation Office, but did not tell the PSC.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

No word yet from the US Geological Survey on whether it will do an updated assessment of the oil in the Bakken and Three Forks formations.

Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) and others asked USGS for that reassessment recently. That could lead to more exploration and development in the Bakken.

State mineral resources director Lynn Helms saids USGS is now talking about a full Williston Basin-wide assessment in a few years. Helms said some oil investors have told him that might be a better approach.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Mostly good news…not great news.

That’s how North Dakota Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms characterized the July oil production numbers.

"Oil production was up 15,000 barrels a day in July," Helms said at his monthly "Director's Cut" briefing. "That's about 1.4 percent."

Helms said natural gas production was up at about the same pace.

"They're not huge jumps, but very positive," Helms said.

Helms says production is about 5 percent over forecast -- and that should offset some of the current prices, that are lagging behind forecast.

Xcel Energy said it has made very good progress in improving the reliability of its electric service in Fargo.

In the recent past, customers have complained about power outages. And the North Dakota Public Service Commission ordered Xcel to give customers who have had three or more outages in a calendar year a refund.

Xcel’s Mark Nisbet said the Cap-X transmission line – which runs from the Monticello nuclear plant in Minnesota to the Mapleton substation has helped with reliability.

PSC continuing negotiations with DAPL owners

Sep 11, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Negotiations continue between legal staff at the North Dakota Public Service Commission and the owners of the Dakota Access pipeline over what could be violations of the pipeline’s siting permit.

There are two areas of concern. One is the company’s rerouting of a portion of the pipeline to avoid culturally sensitive areas. The other is the company clearing more trees and brush along the pipeline route than it was authorized to do.  Both were done without PSC approval.

A hearing had been scheduled on the re-route – but was postponed to allow the negotiations to take place.

MDU granted interim natural gas rate increase

Sep 7, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

MDU natural gas customers will soon see an increase on their monthly bills.

The Public Service Commission has approved an interim increase in natural gas rates. MDU had filed for increased revenues of $5.5 million -- a 5.4 percent rate increase. The PSC suspended that. But state law allows a utility to have an interim increase.

"The interim increase is $4.6 million, an overall increase of 4.2 percent," said Commissioner Brian Kroshus. "The monthly increase for a residential customer is approximately $2.44."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A program that required Xcel Energy to offer compensation to customers in the Fargo area for power outages has been extended through the end of 2017.

Under the plan, if a customer suffers three or more power outages in a year, that customer was eligible for a bill credit of $50. Xcel had filed earlier to end the program, saying it had made progress in replacing some older underground power lines – but the Public Service Commission decided it will keep it in place a little longer.

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

Hurricane Harvey is wreaking havoc on oil operations in the Gulf Coast, and even states far from the storm’s path are feeling its impact on the energy industry.

The hurricane has shuttered 22 percent of the nation’s refining capacity as Gulf refineries halt operations due to damage and flooding.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Attorneys for the North Dakota Public Service Commission and the owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline will be meeting again to try and work out a settlement on a number of issues raised by the PSC.

It is alleged Energy Transfer Partners violated some of the terms of its siting agreement with the PSC. One deals with the company clearing away more trees and brush than allowed in the permit. Another deals with a re-route of the pipeline around culturally significant areas. It’s alleged the company did the re-route without notifying the PSC.

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