Energy

Natural gas power plants coming to ND?

Oct 15, 2012

Montana Dakota Utilities has filed a site request for its proposed 88-megawatt natural gas fired power plant.

The site is next to the existing Heskett coal-fired plant, just north of Mandan.

"The idea is to start construction next year, so that the plant is in operation by the peak demand of summer, 2015," said MDU spokesman Mark Hanson.

New nitrogen fertilizer plant planned for Spiritwood

Sep 13, 2012
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Plans are in the works for a nitrogen fertilizer plant to be built near Jamestown.

CHS, Incorporated – a farmer-owned cooperative – says it wants to build the plant at Spiritwood. It would be a $1.1  to $1.4 billion facility, using North Dakota natural gas to make anhydrous ammonia and other fertilizers.

"This would be a significant strategic investment for CHS," said Cooperative CEO Carl Casale. "It's the largest investment in the history of CHS. And we believe it would insure a consistent domestic nitrogen fertilizer supply for our farmer-owners."

Divided PSC okays CapX 2020 power line near Fargo

Sep 13, 2012

The Public Service Commission has approved the route of a new 345 kilovolt power line in eastern North Dakota.

The line is part of the CapX-2020 project. It’s designed to improve reliability for power customers in the Red River Valley. The line will cross the Red River just north of Oxbow, and runs south of Horace and north of Davenport, where it veers north to a new substation to be built north of Mapleton.

The Commission vote was two to one.  Commissioner Kevin Cramer was the lone "no" vote.

Xcel suggesting 'performance based' electric rates

Aug 20, 2012

Xcel Energy has a proposal before the North Dakota Public Service Commission concerning electrical reliability.

Xcel is proposing “performance based rates.” It would be rewarded for cutting down on the number of power outages that were NOT caused by bad weather. In turn, the company would have to rebate $50 to customers if there were more than three non-weather-related  outages.

Water project serving the oil patch expanding

Jul 31, 2012

It's another sign of the growth in the oil patch.

The state Water Commission has approved an expansion of the Western Area Water Supply project. That project will bring Missouri River water to residents and businesses in the patch.

As originally proposed to the 2011 Legislature, the project would be able to borrow up to $110 million from the Bank of North Dakota. Because of population growth, the project has grown to $119-million. The extra $9 million dollars will be paid for directly from users.

The Public Service Commission will be asking for another position for the next biennium. That story from Prairie Public's Dave Thompson.

The PSC says it needs another pipeline inspector.

Unique "service area agreement" approved by PSC

Jul 2, 2012

The Public Service Commission has approved an unusual service-area agreement for electric service.

This one is between two co-ops – Mountrail-Williams and McLean. Both co-ops serve energy-development areas. Normally, co-ops are not subject to PSC regulation.

"Ethane" pipeline to be built

Jun 21, 2012

The Public Service Commission has okayed the North Dakota portion of an unusual pipeline project. The story from Prairie Public's Dave Thompson.

The pipeline will take a byproduct of natural gas – ethane – that’s captured at the Hess plant at Tioga to a processing facility in Alberta, owned by Nova Chemicals. It’s a 430-mile pipeline – 80 miles of which are in North Dakota.

"Nova processes the ethane and uses it for polymers and plastics," said Commissioner Kevin Cramer. "A lot of food packaging, styrofoam and things like that."

An investor-owned utility and an electric co-operative have reached what’s called a “service area agreement” – to serve customers in Kenmare. As Prairie Public's Dave Thompson reports, state regulators still have to approve that agreement.

Under the agreement, MDUand Burke-Divide Electric Cooperative would divvy-up the customers. The area is in the oil patch. And the agreement must be approved by the state Public Service Commission.

The special projects coordinator for the Bismarck Public Schools says post-secondary education is becoming more important in the oil industry. That story from Prairie Public's Dave Thompson.

Kent Ellis also owns an oil brokerage firm.  Ellis says post-seconndary training doesn't have to lead to a four-year degree. He says it could mean a two-year technical degree.

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