New natural gas pipeline supported

Jun 17, 2013

The director of North Dakota’s Pipeline Authority says he’s excited about MDU’s plans for a new pipeline to bring Bakken natural gas to eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota.

The pipeline would run from near Williston to the Viking pipeline north of Moorhead.

Xcel Energy says an abundant supply of natural gas from the Bakken makes the idea of building two 215 megawatt gas-fired turbines near Hankinson attractive.

Xcel’s Dave Sederquist says the utility would start construction of the two turbines in 2016 – and could get them into service by 2018. But Sederquist says that is dependent on load growth.

"This is out in the future a little ways," said Sederquist. "We're constantly monitoring load -- and we may decided to go with just one turbine or whatever. It's a very flexible proposal."

Short oil pipeline means 400 less oil trucks

Jun 6, 2013

A proposed oil pipeline would help get Bakken crude to rail cars – and take hundreds of oil trucks off the road.

The four mile long pipeline would run from Tesoro’s High Plains Pipeline to Basin Transload’s facility near Zap. The High Plains Pipeline serves the Mandan refinery – but is running at capacity. The crude would then be shipped by rail to other refineries. Most of the Bakken crude is currently shipped by rail.

A study is underway to see if carbon dioxide can replace water in coal-fired power plants.

Allete, Incorporated – the parent company of Minnesota Power – is doing the study, along with BNI Coal. And the state of North Dakota is kicking in some money – through the Lignite Research Council.

Brad Oachs is the chief operating officer of Minnesota Power. He says the reason for the study is to keep lignite coal as a viable source for electricity generation.

Bison wind farm state's second largest

May 30, 2013

It’s now North Dakota’s second largest wind farm.

The Bison Wind Energy Center is in Morton and Oliver counties. It consists of 101 turbines, and it will produce 300 megawatts of electric power. Minnesota Power Company – a division of Allete Energy -- uses the wind power to serve its Minnesota customers, helping to meet Minnesota’s mandates for renewable power.

The company has worked with about 500 landowners to make the wind facility possible. And at a celebration in New Salem, Allete CEO Al Hodnick said the company tries to be a good neighbor.

Otter Tail Power Company wants to extend a rider on customers’ electric bills that was put in place to pay for the costs of the abandoned Big Stone Two power project.

Xcel planning three natural gas turbines

May 28, 2013

Xcel Energy is proposing up to three natural gas-fired “peaking plants” to meet its customers’ power needs in the future.

One is a 215 megawatt turbine to be built at its existing Black Dog coal-fired plant near Burnesville, Minnesota. That could go on-line in 2017. The coal-fired generation there is scheduled to be retired in 2015. Xcel says two more 215-megwatt turbines would be built near Hankinson, North Dakota – and they could be on line by 2019.

PSC okays another natural gas processing plant

May 22, 2013

An Oklahoma-based natural gas processing company now has the okay to build a third 100-million cubic feet processing plant.

One OK plans to build the plant – dubbed Garden Creek Three – in the same general area as two other processing plants. The Public Service Commission gave its go-ahead. Commissioner Julie Fedorchak says this will help reduce the flaring of natural gas produced in the Bakken.

"In North Dakota, natural gas is like the really talented stepchild," said Fedorchak. "It isn't what we're actually going for. We are an oil state, and gas is a by-prodct."

The director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority says he expects the percentage of natural gas being flared in North Dakota will be gradually reduced over the next several months.

"The thing that I watch from my office is how quickly we can get the wells connected to the gas gathering systems," said Justin Kringstad. "We're hoping that in the next 6-12 months, we'll see some pretty significant strides in how we get the wells connected, bringing that flaring percentage down."

Companies no longer file 'letters of intent'

May 13, 2013

Companies that want to build pipelines, power lines and generation facilities will now have a streamlined application process before the Public Service Commission.

The old procedure required companies to file a “letter of intent” with the PSC. And that would mean the companies would wait a year before filing a formal application. The reason to do that was to give the Commission time to get staff in place to look at the project. Routinely, companies would ask for a shorter time between the letter of intent and the formal application, and the PSC would grant that.