Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The developer of a wind farm in McHenry County near Velva has been fined $60,000 because a handful of its wind turbines do not comply with a setback provision negotiated between the company and the North Dakota Public Service Commission.

It concerns the Meadowlark wind farm.

The settlement required a 1400 foot setback from occupied homes, as well as roads and power lines.  Two of the turbines were too close to homes, two were too close to a state highway, and one is near a power line. In the case of the homes, the homeowners have signed waivers.

Drayton to soon receive natural gas service

Dec 14, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Drayton will soon receive natural gas service.

Dakota Natural Gas will be bringing gas from the Viking Pipeline in Minnesota to that city. It’s a $3.2 million project. And the Public Service Commission says that will give residents a choice to stay with propane or sign up for natural gas.

The PSC has set rates for the new gas service.

The project was driven by American Crystal Sugar, who will convert from Powder River coal, shipped in from Wyoming, to natural gas for its sugar beet processing.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Xcel Energy has outlined what it will do with the money it saved from federal tax cuts.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission held an informal hearing on the settlement reached by the utility and the PSC advocacy staff.

Xcel is proposing to return the $9.7 million it saved in 2018 from the tax cuts, that affected the 2017 tax year, to customers, in a refund.

"The impact to the typical residential customer is going to be about $46," said Xcel Senior Regulatory Consultant Dave Sederquist. "That's well over half of a typical electric bill."

Produced water spill reported near Fairfield

Nov 28, 2018

A truck carrying “produced water” from oil and gas development overturned four miles west of Fairfield, spilling the 185 barrels of water on rangeland and into Ash Coulee Creek.

That creek is the site of what’s been called one of the largest reported oil spills in state history.

In December, 2016, an oil pipeline leak spilled 12,615 barrels of oil, or about 530,000 gallons, into Ash Coulee Creek and onto a hillside. The site of that spill is 16 miles northwest of Belfield.

The produced water spill was reported Saturday.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The North Dakota Public Service Commission has approved the expansion of a natural gas processing plant near Watford City.

But there are some conditions.

The Roosevelt gas plant will undergo a $150 million expansion. It will go from processing 50 million cubic feet of natural gas per day – to 150 million cubic feet. The extra 100 mcf will be processed into natural gas liquids.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The North Dakota Industrial Commission has approved some amendments to its Guidance Policy on gas capture.

The changes will give industry some flexibility, based on the availability of gas processing plants and pipeline technology. But for now, the Commission has not changed the gas capture goals' timing – pending further work.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Xcel Energy will be allowed to use the savings from the federal tax cut bill to pay for the clean-up of a manufactured natural gas plant in Fargo.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission has given its approval to that plan.

Xcel said the cost of the clean-up – which will take a number of years – closely mirrors that of the savings in federal taxes the company is realizing, after corporate tax rates were cut. The utility said using those savings will prevent any need for a rate increase.

The General Manager and CEO of Basin Electric Power Cooperative is optimistic about the co-op’s future.

Paul Sukut spoke to the Basin annual meeting in Bismarck. His comments come after a year when Basin had to cut 21 percent of its work force. The co-op had some problems with a new urea fertilizer facility at the Dakota Gasification Plant.  But he told the membership that situation has turned around.

"Guys, I'm excited about our future," Sukut told the co-op's members. "We got this."

MDU and Otter Tail customers will see benefits from the lower taxes those utilities are now paying, due to federal tax cuts.

The corporate tax rate was lowered from 35 percent to 21 percent. And the investor-owned utilities are giving some or all of those savings back to customers in terms of one-time bill credits or lower utility rates.

Xcel Energy is proposing to use the money it will be saving because of the federal tax cut to clean up a site of a former manufactured gas plant in Fargo.

The plant operated from the early 1900s to 1960.

"Back in the day, coal used be manufactured into gas that was used to light streetlights and be distributed to homes and businesses, much like natural gas is today," said Xcel Senior Regulatory Consultant Dave Sederquist. "There are some residual materials left underground."