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General News

Power grid issues, and 'wind fatigue'

Sep 23, 2019

Members of the North Dakota Public Service Commission say there is a potential stumbling block to developing more electricity production in the state.

And that is – the power grid.

"The transmission grid is at or approaching its capacity," said Commissioner Julie Fedorchak.

Petrochemicals -- the "next boom?"

Sep 20, 2019

Representatives of a Bismarck engineering firm say communities in the Oil Patch should start preparing for a potential boom – this time, from the petrochemical industry.

Specifically, plastics.

Don Kopesky and Scott Karon spoke to the North Dakota Planning Conference, being held in Bismarck. Kopesky said North Dakota has the resources to make plastics. And he said the state has the capacity to generate electricity at a low cost, which could be another carrot for those companies.

DES to spend $16.6 million on spring flood damage

Sep 20, 2019

North Dakota’s Emergency Commission has approved $16.6 million dollars in increased spending authority for the state Department of Emergency Services for flooding that happened between March and April.

Of that, $14.4 million comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Another $2.2 million is from a line of credit at the Bank of North Dakota, to pay 10 percent of the local share of the disaster. Under the formula, FEMA pays 75 percent of the costs, and the local share is 25 percent.

The Public Service Commission has given its 2019 Mining and Reclamation Award to Great River Energy, for the reclamation work done after the shutdown of the Stanton Station.

The 188 megawatt power plant shut down on May first, 2017. The plant was imploded in 2018.

Commissioner Randy Christmann said the Stanton Station was built in 1966, before the state’s siting and reclamation laws.

University System

The Board of Higher Education could be looking at a bill draft – that would allow the Board to go into executive session when discussing the Chancellor’s contract renewal.

That’s something they can do now with the college presidents.

"That's the way it was in the past," Chancellor Mark Hagerott told the Board's Governance Committee. "The, due to unique personalities and events, it was pulled out to be made very public."

Hagerott said that has led to -- as he put it -- "interesting times."

University System

In the wake of former UND president Mark Kennedy leaving to become president at the University of Colorado, the state Board of Higher Education is looking at making changes in the presidents’ contracts.

The presidents currently sign a one-page contract. University system staff presented a draft contract, that would be longer, and would have some new language about leaving to take another job.

Board attorney Eric Olson told the Board's Governance Committee the new language requires the president to give the Board at least 60 days' notice prior to resignation.

State Capitol entrance change coming

Sep 19, 2019

By the end of 2020, the front entrance to the state Capitol will change.

And plans are now being drafted for that project.

The biggest change: the tunnel will be closed off -- and the public entrance will move to the east end of the closed tunnel. That tunnel was closed to vehicle traffic in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

The iconic stairway will stay where it is.

State director of facilities management John Boyle said some landscaping will also be done to the south of the entrance.

Fargo Air Museum exhibit details 1986 "Heart Flight"

Sep 18, 2019
D. Webster

A new exhibit detailing the 1986 "Heart Flight" out of Fargo is now on display at the Fargo Air Museum. Prairie Public's Danielle Webster has the story.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A Duluth-based energy company threw a party today (Tuesday) in Glen Ullin, to celebrate the impending opening of a new wind farm in Morton and Mercer counties.

The Glen Ullin Wind Center is to go on-line in October.

“It’s 106 megawatts," said Allete vice president for business development. "In addition to the 500 megawatts the company built at the Bison Wind Farm, that means nearly $1 billion of investment in the area.”                           

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said the Commission is working to expand broadband Internet capability in rural America.

Ajit Pai attended a roundtable discussion in Bismarck on that subject. He said the FCC is working to target parts of the country that do not yet have broadband.

"In rural America, there are some gaps," Pai said in an interview with reporters. "We call that the 'Digital Gap.' I want to make sure every American, especially those in rural areas, has access to digital platforms."