Study sees need for addition of major power plant capacity in N.D.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative said Oct. 26 that a new study on Williston Basin growth over the next 20 years, presented to the North Dakota Industrial Commission Oct. 23, shows the need for nearly three times current electric load over the study period until 2032.

Earlier this year, the North Dakota Transmission Authority commissioned consultant KLJ to develop the Williston Basin Oil and Gas Related Electrical Load Growth Forecast, also called PF12. Basin Electric partnered with the North Dakota Transmission Authority, Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., and the oil and gas industry through the North Dakota Petroleum Council, to get an additional perspective on the needs going forward in that region.

The study contains expected electrical demand related to 43 counties within the Williston Basin and specifically 22 key oil-producing counties in the western and north central regions of North Dakota. Additionally, the study incorporates forecasts related to employment, population growth and housing demand correlated to the study area.

“This is a collaborative effort between the utilities, the state, and the private sector that confirms what our internal studies have shown. All this information is now in a single study that incorporates all aspects of the growth,” said Andrew Serri, Basin Electric CEO and general manager.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission, acting as the North Dakota Transmission Authority, received on Oct. 23 the results of the study. Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, along with other state and industry leaders, outlined the study’s key findings.

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“Oil development in western North Dakota continues to grow at a strong pace, increasing the demand for electricity to power homes, businesses, and oil and gas production in the Williston Basin,” said the Industrial Commission members in a joint Oct. 23 statement. “The results of this study will provide us with valuable information as we address our state’s rapid growth and plan for the future power demand and infrastructure needs of the region.”

Montana-Dakota Utilities (MDU) and Basin Electric partnered with NDTA to effectively plan, collaborate and validate industry research and requirements associated with power demand in the Williston Basin region. Both MDU and Basin Electric will utilize the information obtained in the study to adequately plan for critical infrastructure needs and development within the study area.

“We appreciate the opportunity to participate in this important study,” said David Goodin, President and CEO of MDU. “We continually conduct internal studies and update our electric forecasts, but this provides us with another tool to help plan to meet the rapidly growing demand of the Bakken region.”

“We hope this study will be just the start of an ongoing effort of the state and our partners to work together to identify the need for this critical infrastructure in this fast changing economic development,” said Sandi Tabor, Transmission Authority Director. “Transmission within North Dakota will be needed to fuel an orderly development of our valuable natural resources and it requires significant planning.”

The projected electrical load represents a 208% increase from the 1,209 MW area load demand required in 2012. The rise to the expected 3,721 MW electrical demand will consist of rapid increases up to 2017 followed by steady growth through 2032. The period between 2012 and 2017 represents the most significant increase in the 20-year study period with a rise to 2,288 MW, nearly doubling today’s demand in the study region. Between 2017 and 2032 the expected growth continues steadily representing maturing oilfield development, near completion of pipeline build-out and stabilization of well pumping requirements.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.