Energy | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Energy

Dave Thompson

October was a good month for oil production in North Dakota.

"I think the numbers are going to speak louder than anything I could," said state mineral resources director Lynn Helms. "It's really pretty remarkable."

What's remarkable is production jumped to nearly 1.2 million barrels a day -- a 78,000 barrel a day increase from September.

"That is the largest month-over-month increase we've ever had in North Dakota," Helms said in his monthly "Director's Cut" media briefing.

Interim committee studying wind power siting

Dec 14, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

An interim Legislative committee has begun a study of wind power in North Dakota – looking at wind farm siting laws and rules, as well as rules for decommissioning wind farms when they’re no longer used.

"The process of siting wind projects has gotten more and more controversial, as we see more farms developing," Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak told the interim Natural Resources Committee. "We've also gotten better at it."

But Fedorchak told the Committee she's open to find more improvements.

The president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council said he welcomes the US Geological Survey’s plans to conduct a comprehensive, broad-based resource estimate for the Williston Basin.

Ron Ness said when the USGS did a similar study in 2013, the estimate of recoverable oil at that time from the Bakken and Three Forks formations more than doubled, from 3.6 billion barrels to 7.4 billion barrels.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Under new rules adopted by the state Industrial Commission, oil companies will have to give royalty owners more details on deductions taken from their royalty checks.

Royalty owners have complained about trying to get answers from the oil companies on why some deductions are taken from their royalty payments.

North Dakota Mineral Resources assistant director Bruce Hicks said the rule will provide clarity and transparency.

New rules proposed by the North Dakota Public Service Commission would change the required lighting on wind towers.

The lights are required for aircraft safety.

Many of the older wind farms use blinking red lights. Some people have complained that those lights remain on even when there are no airplanes in the area. But PSC Chairman Randy Christmann said there are newer technologies for those lighting systems. 

One is “aircraft detection lighting.”

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Members of the North Dakota Public Service Commission say they will be giving some more scrutiny to utilities that have a “transmission facility cost rider” on their monthly bills.

The PSC approved an added $1.02 on an Otter Tail Power Company customer’s monthly bill. The Commission is considering a less than $1 per month charge for transmission costs on MDU electric bills.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said the costs of transmission are significant. And she says the PSC will be taking a harder look at these kinds of riders.

Xcel Energy to increase reliability in Fargo

Nov 30, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Xcel Energy has been given the go-ahead to build a new 115 kilovolt power line between two Fargo substations.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission has given Xcel the green light.

It would be a five-mile line between the Maple River and Red River substations.

"Essentially, the transmission line will provide for increased reliability in the Fargo area," said Commissioner Brian Kroshus. "It should help prevent overloads on neighboring substations."

As wind farms age, companies are working to re-power them – by replacing older turbines with newer, more powerful turbines.

"In some of the older wind facilities, the turbine technology wasn't as good," said North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Brian Kroshus. "In the newer turbines, technology has improved, and they last longer."

"We've already had NextEra talk to our staff pretty extensively about looking at repowering some of their facilities," said Commissioner Julie Fedorchak.

Wind power still 'hot' in ND

Nov 17, 2017
Prairie Public file

North Dakota’s Public Service Commissioners belive there is still a lot of interest in building wind power facilities in North Dakota.

The PSC this week worked on expanding three already-approved wind power projects, and is considering another one.

Commissioner Brian Kroshus said there’s no question it is being driven by the federal production tax credit – which is set to expire soon.

"When we visit with companies, they've indicated the expiring PTCs are playing a part in bringing this wind on line as quickly as they can," Kroshus said.

Oil movement by rail ticked up slightly in Sept.

Nov 17, 2017

Shipments of oil by rail ticked up a little during the month of September.

The oil was shipped to East Coast refineries.

The amount of Bakken crude shipped by rail has been dropping because of pipeline infrastructure – most notably the Dakota Access Pipeline.

North Dakota Pipeline Authority director Justin Kringstad said in September oil companies were dealing with the after affects of hurricanes.

"Hurricane Maria impacted deliveries of oil to the East Coast," Kringstad said. "The PADD 1 refineries are fully geared to handle Bakken crude deliveries by rail."

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