Courtenay wind farm approved

Nov 14, 2013

The Public Service Commission has given the final okay for a wind farm proposed for Stutsman County.

The Courtenay Wind Farm will be 200 megawatts. The power will be sold to Xcel Energy.

The company had originally proposed up to 127 turbine locations – and to use one-point-five megawatt turbines. But the developer agreed to drop nine potential locations near a crop spraying business.

Xcel Energy rate case still pending

Nov 13, 2013

Xcel Energy’s latest electric rate case is still before the North Dakota Public Service Commission – 11 months after it was filed.

Xcel is asking for a $16.9 million increase. It was granted interim rates in February, which raised a typical Xcel customer’s bill by $7 a month.

That compares with MDU’s latest rate case. MDU is seeking a natural gas rate increase. It filed the case in September, and it was granted an interim increase that would take effect this month. But PSC staff and the company have reached a tentative agreement, and the PSC will take a look at that.

Bismarck firm hired to look at state's oil policies

Nov 1, 2013

A Legislative interim committee has chosen a Bismarck engineering firm to study oil industry impacts, production trends and tax policy.

KLJ was one of two companies competing for the contract. The other firm was New York-based Loius Berger .

The chief of the state Health Department’s environmental health section says his department is working on ways to let the public know about oil spills and other hazardous material incidents.

New natural gas pipeline 'open for business'

Oct 30, 2013
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

An 80 mile long, $170 million natural gas pipeline is now ready for gas.

It’s called the Tioga Lateral Pipeline – and it will connect the Hess gas plant in Tioga with the Alliance Pipeline. It’ll move the Bakken gas to Chicago. And it will move both regular gas and liquefied natural gas. The line will have a capacity of 126 million cubic feet of natural gas each day.

Alliance says the new line will help reduce the flaring of natural gas.

The Public Service Commission will be looking at a settlement agreement – reached between Montana-Dakota Utilities and PSC staff – on MDU’s latest request for a natural gas rate increase.

MDU had filed for a 6.4 percent increase – or about $6.8 million. It also filed for interim rates – in the amount of 4.5 million dollars.

The settlement agreement says MDU will get a $4.25 million rate increase.  And because the interim rates have NOT yet been implemented, MDU agrees to hold to that figure for the interim rates, until the PSC makes the final ruling.

PSC will study regulating in-state oil pipelines

Oct 24, 2013

The Public Service Commission will be looking at whether it should assume more authority over in-state crude oil pipelines.

The PSC has siting authority – but once the pipe is in the ground, federal regulations take over. It’s different for the intra-state natural gas pipelines, where the PSC employs pipeline inspectors.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak says it’s not easy to explain to the public.

Investigation continues into Tesoro pipeline spill

Oct 24, 2013

The investigation continues into what caused a big oil pipeline leak near Tioga.

As Prairie Public’s Dave Thompson reports, the results may lead to more strict rules about which pipelines need better monitoring – and how often they should be monitored.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

An oil well that could have been drilled within 300 feet of the historic Elkhorn Ranch site will instead be drilled from a well pad more than two miles away.

The original plan would have been within feet of the boundary of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Instead, XTO Energy will use an existing pad on private land.

The state Industrial Commission approved that plan. Lynn Helms is the state’s mineral resources director. He told the Commission the Badlands Conservation Alliance had asked for a moratorium on drilling near the Elkhorn Ranch site.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

An oil and gas industry task force has been meeting to find ways to reduce the amount of natural gas being flared in the Bakken.

About 30 percent of the natural gas is being flared. Industry leaders say the problem used to be a shortage of natural gas processing plants.

Task force member Lance Langford -- an executive with Statoil -- says that issue is being solved. But he told the state Industrial Commission there's a different problem now.

"Now today, the major problem is gathering," said Langford. "Gathering the gas and moving it to the processing plants."