North Dakota schedules three racing weekends

Jul 9, 2017

The North Dakota Horse Park will be hosting three weekends of horse racing beginning next Saturday.

And the park’s general manager is expecting a good season.

For the first time in years, horse races will be held on two Friday nights, July 21st and 28th.

Park general manager Mike Schmitz said he thinks the horse racing industry is alive and well in North Dakota.

"As an industry, we're putting more into te state's coffers than our appropriations," Schmitz said in an interview.

Schmitz also said NDSU has just finished an impact study on horse racing.

Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced Thursday that he is directing his department to speed up permitting for oil and gas leases on public lands.

Zinke wants to make it easier and quicker for fossil fuel companies to drill on federal land.

"We’re not going to be an adversary to creating wealth and opportunity on some of our public lands," he said on a call with reporters.

Otter Tail Power Company

Otter Tail Power Company is proposing a North Dakota wind farm and a South Dakota natural gas power plant to replace an aging coal-fired power plant.

The plant is the Hoot Lake power plant.

"It's really a 1950s-era plant," said Otter Tail vice-president for public relations Cris Oehler. "If you've got a car, you can keep it going for some miles. But at some point, you need to buy a new vehicle. And that's kind of where we are with the Hoot Lake plant."

Xcel Energy proposing big wind power expansion

Jul 4, 2017

Xcel Energy has a plan to add 1550 megawatts of wind generation.

And it has asked the North Dakota Public Service Commission to give its OK to the plan.

Xcel wants the PSC to issue what is called “advanced determination of prudence.” That designation could make it easier for the utility to seek financing for the project.

The projects include Foxtail, in Dickey County, and Clean Energy #1 in Mercer and Morton Counties. Foxtail is a 150 megawatt wind farm, and Clean Energy #1 is a 100 megawatt facility.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A crude oil pipeline that was converted from a gathering line to a transmission line will be carrying more crude.

The Public Service Commission gave the OK to Hiland Crude, LLC's plan to increase the capacity from 36,000 barrels a day to 85,000 barrels a day. The pipeline itself will not change – but Hiland is also building more storage.

"They've gotten more producers interested in using that pipeline," said Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. "One of which is the competion of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and this is a feeder to that."

ND Department of Mineral Resources

The state’s Industrial Commission is extending the waivers for inactive oil wells and non-completed wells.

Non-completed wells have been drilled, but have not been fracked. The inactive wells have been drilled and fracked, but are not producing oil. Current waivers say those wells need to be active a year after being granted a waiver – but the Commission is extending that for another six months.

State mineral resources director Lynn Helms told the Industrial Commission there are a number of reasons. One is price.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Xcel Energy is extending an “outage credit” until the end of the year for its Fargo customers.

That credit was created after Xcel had problems with power outages. Under it, if a customer has three or more outages a year, the customer would receive a $50 credit on the electric bill. That credit was to expire – but North Dakota Public Service Commission staff worked with the company to keep it in place a little longer..

The owner of the Dickinson diesel refinery is proposing to convert part of it to produce “renewable diesel fuel.”

Tesoro said the plan is to produce about 5 percent of the diesel from vegetable oils. Tesoro public and government affairs North Dakota director Ron Day said “renewable diesel” is different from “bio-diesel.”

"It's not an additive," Day said in an interview. "It is diesel fuel.'

Day said the labeling will be the same as diesel.

A South Dakota company facing more than $900,000 in fines from the North Dakota Industrial Commission because a truck driver dumped saltwater on Williams County roads argues the Commission doesn’t have jurisdiction.

That argument is now before the North Dakota Supreme Court.

ND Petroleum Council hosts teacher seminar

Jun 20, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

More than 50 teachers from North Dakota and eastern Montana are attending the annual North Dakota Petroleum Council Teacher education Seminar at Bismarck State College.

The Council has been doing these seminars for more than 30 years. Council president Ron Ness said it’s a great way to get the facts about the energy industry to the schools – and talk to students about the opportunities in the industry.