Energy | Prairie Public Broadcasting


Coal company fined $2000

Dec 21, 2012

The company that operates the Beulah coal mine will be paying $2000 in fines for a violation of mining and reclamation rules.

Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer says PSC inspectors found Dakota Westmoreland Corporation stripped topsoil from an area to be mined without first constructing the required sedimentation ponds. He says that can create a serious environmental problem – should the area get heavy rain and a lot of runoff.

Commission Chairman Brian Kalk says the company was negligent.

Xcel Energy asks for $16.9 million rate increase

Dec 21, 2012

Xcel Energy has filed an electric rate increase with the North Dakota Public Service Commission.

Xcel is asking for a 9.25 percent increase in overall rates, or $16.9 million. The utility says

it needs the money because of equipment and service upgrades – including plans to extend the lives of its two Minnesota nuclear plants.

Under North Dakota law, Xcel can receive interim rates. It's asking for an 8.6 percent increase as part of its interim package, or $14.7 million.

Xcel customers could get $50 -- based on power outages

Dec 13, 2012

As part of an electric rate case settlement, Xcel Energy has to meet some new reliability standards.

Under the plan, approved by the North Dakota Public Service Commission, if Xcel customers experience more than three non-weather related power outages in a year, Xcel must give them $50 credit.  The plan will be in effect for the next three years.

The PSC says the number of outages in the Fargo area has been a concern over the past several years.

Oil companies, wildlife groups try to coexist

Nov 27, 2012
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

It’s being touted as the first of its kind.

As Prairie Public’s Dave Thompson reports, oil companies are joining conservation and wildlife groups to talk about how to lessen the impact of energy development on wildlife.

Christmann: Infrastructure my top priority

Nov 26, 2012

The newly elected member of the Public Service Commission says he hopes to focus on building infrastructure – pipelines and power lines – to get North Dakota’s energy to market.

"I'm not talking about the state coming in and doing it," said Randy Christmann. "I'm talking about making it reasonable for investors to meet all the standards they're supposed to meet to get that infrastructure built out."

The PSC is in change of siting pipelines and power lines.

Christmann says he wants to make sure landowner rights are respected.

As oil production rises in the Bakken, so does the production of natural gas.

The problem is -- just over 30 percent of the natural gas produced in the Bakken is flared.

Statoil VP: "We're here for the long haul"

Nov 20, 2012

A Norwegian oil company has become a big player in the Bakken.

Statoil purchased Brigham Exploration’s Bakken assets about a year ago. Now, it’s producing 50-thousand barrels per day, and is currently running 14 to 16 drilling rigs.

Torstein Hole is Statoil’s senior vice president for development and production in North America. He says Statoil is in it for the long run.

Community colleges working to train energy workforce

Nov 14, 2012

Five North Dakota state and tribal colleges are sharing in a federal grant to create the “Trend” consortium.

“Trend” stands for “Training for Regional Energy in North Dakota.” It’s funded by a $14.6 million grant from the US Department of Labor. The colleges – including Bismarck State College, Williston State College, Fort Berthold Community College, Sitting Bull College and the Turtle Mountain Community College, are participating in the “Trend” consortium.

Norway's petroleum minister visiting ND

Nov 6, 2012

Norway’s minister of petroleum and energy is in North Dakota.
Ola Borten Moe will visit western North Dakota – and will meet with
some of the industry and government leaders while he’s here.

"I hope to see the activities in the Bakken field with my own eyes," said Borten Moe. "I may be better able to understand what's happening in the Bakken and the American energy sector."

Young station to roll out new clean coal technology

Oct 15, 2012
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

For years, scientists and power companies have looked for ways to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants.

The companies have installed scrubbers. But they don’t take care of some of the emissions, such as mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide.

The owners of the Milton R. Young power station near Center are trying something new to help cut down on those emissions. As Prairie Public’s Dave Thompson reports, the new technique uses chemicals to reduce emissions.