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Transmission Authority director says there are potentials for 'brown-outs' and blackouts because of new EPA rules

A study from the North Dakota Transmission Authority shows there is a potential for brown-outs and blackouts due to the EPA’s new greenhouse gas standards.

The new EPA rules could cause some coal-fired generation to shut down. And Authority Executive Director Claire Vigesaa said this comes at a time when demand for electricity is rising.

"It's vitally important that we keep our existing generation on-line," said Vigesaa. "We cannot shut down one generator. In order to keep the lights on, we need all the generation we have in place, and dispatchable generation, that we can count on being there, no matter what the weather is, or the temperature is."

Vigesaa said the study shows that the two regional transmission operators that serve North Dakota – Midwest Independent System Operator and Southwest Power Pool – will become dependent on intermittent, weather dependent sources, and by 2030 will not have enough generation to meet demand.

Vigesaa said with the growth in demand, it highlights the need for more baseload facilities –including coal, natural gas and, potentially, nuclear. But he said nuclear would be a challenge.

"It takes a long time to get them permitted," Vigesaa said. "They have very rigid regulations — which is probably a good thing."

Vigesaa said it's very important to keep what we have now, and accelerate looking at new options for baseload power, whether it's coal, natural gas or nuclear. He said the power demand is growing at a rate of 3 to 5 percent per year.

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