It’s been at least ten years since the first wind farms were built in North Dakota.

State law says after ten years, the Public Service Commission should take another look at those companies’ plans to decommission wind farms – that is, what happens to the turbines once they’re no longer used.

The PSC will be taking another look at those plans.

MDU natural gas rate increase suspended

Sep 26, 2013

The Public Service Commission has voted to suspend a natural gas rate increase requested by Montana Dakota Utilities.

MDU has asked for an overall 6.4 percent increase. It would be 9.5 percent for residential customers – or about $5.15 a month.

The PSC had to move to suspend the rates – or they would take effect within 30 days.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak says the company and the Commission will have to clearly explain why the rate increase is in front of the PSC.

Energy corridor proposed for ND, MN

Sep 26, 2013

A Minnesota-based power company is proposing a comprehensive energy transportation corridor in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Allete is proposing the corridor would follow an existing 465 mile path between Center and Duluth. That’s the route of an existing Allete power line. The corridor would be home to other infrastructure development, such as pipelines.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple says he would like to see it used for a natural gas pipeline – to take gas from the Bakken and move in to the east.

MDU asks for natural gas rate increase

Sep 19, 2013

Montana Dakota Utilities Co. has filed for a natural gas rate increase.

The utility is asking for an overall 6.4 percent increase. For residential customers, the increase would be 9.5 percent.

"For a residential custimer, it would be about $5.15 a month," said MDU spokesman Mark Hanson. "What we're looking to do is recover costs for quite a bit of investment in our natural gas facilities, as well as technology upgrades."

Hanson says some of those upgrades benefit customers directly.

Reducing natural gas flaring

Sep 19, 2013

Members of the North Dakota Petroleum Council spent the past three days in Grand Forks as part of their 32nd Annual Meeting.

Much of the discussion focused on how to reduce the flaring of drilling by-products and turn them into a value-added product.

Prairie Public's Todd McDonald reports.

Natural gas flaring rules update considered

Sep 16, 2013

The state Industrial Commission is starting an in-depth discussion on reducing natural gas flaring in the Bakken.

Around 30 percent of the gas is flared.

State mineral resources director Lynn Helms will be discussing the Industrial Commission's goals with industry representatives at the North Dakota Petroleum Council's meeting in Grand Forks.

"They're pretty simple goals," said Helms. "Number one, reduce the volume of gas flared. Number two, reduce the number of wells flaring. And number three, reduce the duration for which those wells flare."

PSC considering wind farm decommissioning rules

Sep 16, 2013

The Public Service Commission is looking at the requirements for decommissioning wind farms.

When the Legislature passed wind farm laws in 2003, it required the companies to file decommissioning plans with the PSC. And lawmakers said after ten years, the Commission could require companies to have bonding in-place for the turbine removal.

That’s what the PSC has been discussing.

Senate energy committee chairman touring ND

Sep 6, 2013
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The chairman of the US Senate Energy Committee says he understands the need for infrastructure – especially pipelines – in western North Dakota to get oil and natural gas to market.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is touring western North Dakota at the invitation of fellow Energy Committee member Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND). Wyden says he’d like to talk to people in the petroleum industry on the idea of so-called “smart pipelines.”

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A group of lawmakers from West Virginia met with North Dakota legislators in Bismarck – to learn more about North Dakota’s “Legacy Fund.”

The fund – as proposed by the Legislature and approved by the voters – sets aside 30 percent of oil and gas tax collections in a permanent fund – which can’t be touched until at least 2017.

'After-the-fact' pipeline hearing scheduled

Aug 21, 2013

Under normal circumstances, the Public Service Commission holds hearings on proposed projects – like natural gas pipelines.

But the Commission will be holding a siting hearing “after the fact.”

In 2008, Hiland Operating, LLC built a 6.5 mile natural gas line in Divide and Burke Counties. It did so without a permit.

"They thought it was a gathering line," said Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. "Under the definition, it does not require a permit. But it's clearly a transmission line."