Basin Electric’s initial Pioneer gas unit goes commercial

Pioneer Generation Station, a natural gas-fired peaking station sited northwest of Williston, N.D., started commercial operation with the 45-MW Unit 1 on Sept. 4.

Pioneer was approved by the Basin Electric Power Cooperative board of directors in November 2011 and was built to serve the increasing demand for electricity by member cooperatives in northwest North Dakota. Unit 1 will primarily be used to support the local transmission system and serve loads developing in the area, Basin Electric noted in a Sept. 6 statement.

In July 2012, the board approved Pioneer Generation Station Phase II, which will consist of two additional units with a total capacity of 90 MW to be completed in 2014.

Also, Basin Electric said Sept. 6 that its Spirit Mound Station, an oil-fired peaker near Vermillion, S.D., was started Aug. 27-29 across the peak hours of the day to provide additional generation within Basin Electric’s service area.

The station has two 60-MW generating units and primarily runs on an as-needed basis when the demand for electricity exceeds the capacity of baseload facilities. Any number of issues – equipment failure, uncertain power needs, weather, fuel supply – can affect Basin Electric’s ability to make and distribute power. The plant was started because of high member loads and unplanned plant outages.

Spirit Mound can be remotely operated from the Leland Old Station near Stanton, N.D., and can be brought up to full load within 30 minutes. In contrast, coal-based facilities like Leland Olds can take hours. Spirit Mound uses No. 2 fuel oil, and when in use, the station consumes about 100 gallons of fuel per minute.

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.