Energy

'Stripper well' part 2

Jul 30, 2013

03905 Stripper wells 2                                            7-30-13 ddt

About a third of North Dakota’s oil wells are considered to be “stripper wells” – that is, marginal wells.

Those wells continue to operate at lower tax rates.

The 2013 Legislature considered an overhaul of tax policy – that would have ended the stripper well exemption, in exchange for a lower tax rate on future wells. Lawmakers rejected the idea, but made a few tweaks to the law.

'Stripper well' part 1

Jul 29, 2013

The 2013 Legislature wrestled with the concept of “stripper wells” and “stripper well properties.”

Those are wells that pump relatively little oil – and companies get a reduction in oil taxes to keep them pumping. A bill was considered to end the stripper well exemption – and in return, lower the overall tax rate for new oil wells going forward. That failed.

In the first of a series, Prairie Public’s Dave Thompson defines “stripper well” – and the state’s tax policy concerning them.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission will be holding hearings into what costs for pollution control equipment to be installed at the Big Stone power plant in South Dakota will have to be borne by North Dakota customers.

Installing the equipment will cost more than $400 million. Otter Tail Power Company and Montana Dakota Utilities have an ownership stake in the plant.  Commissioner Julie Fedorchak says the new equipment will bring Big Stone in line with federal EPA regulations, as well as South Dakota’s State Improvement Plan for environmental haze.

Pollution control on MT plant could cost ND consumers

Jul 11, 2013

Pollution control equipment to be installed at a Montana power plant could mean higher electric rates for North Dakotans who are customers of Montana-Dakota Utilities.

MDU owns the Lewis and Clark coal plant in Montana. To meet EPA guidelines, MDU will have to spend nearly 28 million dollars to add pollution control equipment to the plant. And under the proposal, North Dakota customers will see their electric bills rise $1.40 a month.

Senator John Hoeven says President Obama is taking the wrong approach on energy.

The President wants the federal EPA to work to reduce emissions from existing and future coal fired power plants. Hoeven (R-ND) says the President’s plan is a classic over-reach.

"It's this big-government, big-regulation approach that is going to stop investment in energy development in this country," said Hoeven. He says he continues to push for a national comprehensive energy plan – that is a “states first” plan.

Two Dickinson-area electric utilities have entered into a “service area agreement” – as to which will serve the growth areas around Dickinson.

The two are Montana-Dakota Utilities Company – an investor-owned utility – and Roughrider Electric Cooperative.  Under the agreement – the two will divvy-up who serves what area where the city is expanding.

The Public Service Commission must approve the agreement. Commissioner Julie Fedorchak says the two should be commended for working out a deal.

Wind farm planned for Adams County

Jun 24, 2013

Developers of a proposed 150 megawatt wind farm near Hettinger, in Adams County, say they are hoping to go forward with it this year.

The Thunder Spirit Wind Farm would use up to 75 wind turbines. It would cost $300 million to build. Public Service Commission chairman Brian Kalk says Thunder Spirit had first applied for the wind farm last year.

"The original letter said they hoped to have construction completed by December 2012," said Kalk. "I would guess with the extension of the production tax credit, they will hope to have thinngs started by December 31st of this year."

MDU electric customers will see a credit on their bills in July and August.

That’s because the company earned more than it was allowed to under the settlement of an electric rate case. That settlement with the North Dakota Public Service Commission says if the utility has a rate of return above the 10.75 percent allowed, it would have to share that extra profit with customers. And it means average MDU customers will see a $16.50 cent credit spread out over the July and August bills.

Natural gas flaring still nearly 30 percent

Jun 17, 2013

Nearly 30 percent of natural gas produced in the Bakken is flared.

And state officials continue to work to reduce that flared amount.

Natural gas is a byproduct of oil development in the Bakken. State mineral resources director Lynn Helms says newer wells are being connected to gas gathering systems, so that gas isn’t being flared. However, he says some wells that have been connected to gas gathering systems for some time are now flaring more of their natural gas.

Natural gas flaring still nearly 30 percent

Jun 17, 2013

Nearly 30 percent of natural gas produced in the Bakken is flared.

And state officials continue to work to reduce that flared amount.

Natural gas is a byproduct of oil development in the Bakken. State mineral resources director Lynn Helms says newer wells are being connected to gas gathering systems, so that gas isn’t being flared. However, he says some wells that have been connected to gas gathering systems for some time are now flaring more of their natural gas.

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