© 2024
Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

MDU representative talks data centers and power demands

Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. logo with red and black text

A representative of Bismarck-based MDU says the growth of data centers – especially in the Ellendale area – has been positive for utility customers and for economic growth.

Darcy Neigum is MDU’s vice-president for electric supply. He told the Legislature’s interim Energy Development and Transmission Committee that in the spring of 2022, a 180 megawatt data center load came on board in the Ellendale area.

"Just for perspective, that 180 megawatts is about the same as the amount of energy supplied to all of our load in the Bismarck-Mandan area," Neigum told the Committee.

Neigum said the Ellendale area had excess power production. And he said the data center has created economic benefits in that area.

"That's in tax base, and it has created between 20 and 30 permanent jobs," said Neigum.

Neigum said MDU invested a lot in facilities to serve the data center. He told the committee the utility looked at “de-risking” and providing value to the other MDU customers.

"One of the concerns, depending on the type of load, is if it would go away overnight," Neigum said. "Potentially, it could leave additional investments we have made to serve that load, that our historic customers would have o pay for."

Neigum said MDU went to the North Dakota Public Service Commission, and the PSC approved a special rate for serving loads like this, and to create separate service agreements for them. He sid that's how MDU customers benefit.

"There's $10 million in annual benefits, that does flow back to them," Neigum said. "It's a significant reduction in the rates the rest of the customers pay."

Neigum said MDU has now signed an agreement to provide another 225 megawatts of load for that area. He said the first 100 megawatts will likely come on line this fall. And Neigum told the committee that will create more jobs in the area.

Related Content