Energy

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

With the Clean Power Plan out, officials in North Dakota say they are still committed to finding ways to capture carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

They’re eyeing a project under construction in Texas to build a zero-emission gas plant, a small-scale version of the Allam Cycle outside Houston that’s slated to fire up next year.

Amy Sisk / Prairie Public

Officials across coal-rich states are cheering an announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency will withdraw the Clean Power Plan. Now, attention turns to how the nation will address greenhouse gas emissions going forward.

The rule put in place by the Obama administration would have required North Dakota to reduce its carbon emissions 45 percent by 2030. The state’s coal industry worried this would force utilities to shut down some coal-fired power plants and, subsequently, the coal mines that feed lignite to these facilities.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Public Service Commissioners say they may have to ask the 2019 Legislature for more staff to inspect natural gas pipelines.

Right now, the state has 1 and ½ positions for that inspection.

Commissioner Brian Kroshus said the concern is the federal requirement of the number of inspection days.

"By the year 2020, we will have to demonstrate that we will be able to conduct 210 inspection days in the field," Kroshus said. "We're currently at 136."

Kroshus said the main reason for more inspection days is a growing natural gas infrastructure.

Amy Sisk / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s lignite coal industry has ambitious -- and pricey -- plans to capture carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, which industry leaders highlighted Thursday at a conference in Bismarck.

DAPL costs still being tallied

Sep 26, 2017
Amy Sisk / Prairie Public

Bills continue to come in for costs incurred by the Dakota Access Pipeline protest.

The state’s Emergency Commission has approved another $5 million in borrowing authority from the state-owned Bank of North Dakota to cover the costs. That puts the amount of borrowing authority at over $40 million.

Meanwhile, that commission has given its OK to receive $10 million in federal grant funds for the DAPL protest. That money will be used to pay back the Bank for loans.

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.

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