Energy | Prairie Public Broadcasting


The new Thunder Spirit wind farm to be built in Adams County will have the most restrictive rules on turbine locations.

The Public Service Commission requires that a turbine be placed no closer than 1400-feet from a residence. But Adams County is requiring that the distance be 2640 feet.

"This is, by far, the most restrictive the Commission has ever been involved in," said Commission Chairman Brian Kalk. "Going forward, I don not view the 2640 as a new standard. It's what the county wanted, and we complied with that."

Oil spill near Tioga may be largest spill in state history

Oct 11, 2013

the state Health Department is currently assessing and cleaning up a big oil spill near Tioga.

A pipeline owned by Tesoro leaked 20,600 barrels of crude in a wheat field about 9 miles northeast of Tioga. It covers an area the size of about seven football fields. A farmer harvesting wheat discovered the spill September 29th.  Tesoro said it's about 865,000 gallons of oil. That's enough to fill 27 railroad tanker cars, or an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Legislative interim committee to study oil taxes

Oct 8, 2013

The Legislature’s interim Taxation Committee will be looking at the way North Dakota taxes the oil industry.

The current tax structure came out of 1980’s Measure Six – which added an oil extraction tax, bringing the rate to 11-and-a-half percent. Since that time, the Legislature has put in place certain tax breaks for so-called “stripper” wells – that is, low producing wells – as well as a price trigger, so when a barrel of oil falls below a certain price threshold, the tax is cut.

A spokesman for the Lignite Energy Council says consumers will definitely feel the impact – if the attempts by the Obama administration and the EPA to shut down coal-fired power in favor of renewables are successful.

Steve Van Dyke says coal has been a reliable source for inexpensive power generation. He says the current administration is promoting the use of more expensive and less reliable renewable fuels.

Basin: We're prepared for wind farm decommissioning

Oct 1, 2013

A spokesman for Basin Electric Power Cooperative says the co-op has a plan for decommissioning wind farms – and a plan to pay for it, should that need to happen.

The Public Service Commission has opened an investigation into those decommissioning plans. And the PSC could require bonds to help pay for the reclamation.

Basin has a big wind farm in the Minot area. Basin’s Daryl Hill says the co-op has spelled out its decommissioning plans in the permit it received for the wind farm.

It’s been at least ten years since the first wind farms were built in North Dakota.

State law says after ten years, the Public Service Commission should take another look at those companies’ plans to decommission wind farms – that is, what happens to the turbines once they’re no longer used.

The PSC will be taking another look at those plans.

MDU natural gas rate increase suspended

Sep 26, 2013

The Public Service Commission has voted to suspend a natural gas rate increase requested by Montana Dakota Utilities.

MDU has asked for an overall 6.4 percent increase. It would be 9.5 percent for residential customers – or about $5.15 a month.

The PSC had to move to suspend the rates – or they would take effect within 30 days.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak says the company and the Commission will have to clearly explain why the rate increase is in front of the PSC.

Energy corridor proposed for ND, MN

Sep 26, 2013

A Minnesota-based power company is proposing a comprehensive energy transportation corridor in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Allete is proposing the corridor would follow an existing 465 mile path between Center and Duluth. That’s the route of an existing Allete power line. The corridor would be home to other infrastructure development, such as pipelines.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple says he would like to see it used for a natural gas pipeline – to take gas from the Bakken and move in to the east.

MDU asks for natural gas rate increase

Sep 19, 2013

Montana Dakota Utilities Co. has filed for a natural gas rate increase.

The utility is asking for an overall 6.4 percent increase. For residential customers, the increase would be 9.5 percent.

"For a residential custimer, it would be about $5.15 a month," said MDU spokesman Mark Hanson. "What we're looking to do is recover costs for quite a bit of investment in our natural gas facilities, as well as technology upgrades."

Hanson says some of those upgrades benefit customers directly.

Reducing natural gas flaring

Sep 19, 2013

Members of the North Dakota Petroleum Council spent the past three days in Grand Forks as part of their 32nd Annual Meeting.

Much of the discussion focused on how to reduce the flaring of drilling by-products and turn them into a value-added product.

Prairie Public's Todd McDonald reports.