Basin Electric starts operation of new Lonesome Creek units

Basin Electric Power Cooperative said Jan. 8 that it has started operation of Units 2 and 3 of the Lonesome Creek natural gas peaking station. The two new units commenced commercial operation Jan. 1.

The additional gas-fired generation will provide much-needed electrical stability in the Williston Basin oil Basin, Basin Electric said in a news release.

The units had achieved ‘first fire’ in December. The units use General Electric LM 6000 combustion turbine generators.

Lonesome Creek, located west of Watford City, N.D., had commissioned Unit 1 in December 2013. Each of the three units has 45 MW of generation capacity, giving the station a total rating of 135 MW.

Basin Electric’s Pioneer plant, natural gas peaking plant northwest of Williston, ND, is also helping serve electrical needs in the Williston Basin. Pioneer Station Unit 1 started commercial operation in September 2013, Unit 2 started commercial operation in February 2014, and Unit 3 started commercial operation in March 2014. All three units have 45 MW of generation capacity.

Phase III for Lonesome Creek will consist of the addition of two 45-MW combustion turbines. Phase III for Pioneer Station will consist of 112 MW of additional peaking capacity, provided by 12 9.3-MW natural gas-based reciprocating engines.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission has set a March 2 hearing the site certificate for the Pioneer phase III project.

The oil play in the Bakke formation covers parts of western North Dakota and eastern Montana. Crude oil production in the North Dakota has quadrupled since 2007. As a result of the drilling and production activity and the associated support services and housing growth, electrical loads are growing rapidly. Basin Electric member cooperatives serve much of that load.

In 2009 Basin Electric and its member systems planned for 400 megawatts of load to develop in this area. Basin Electric is now planning for loads to grow an additional 1,200 megawatts by 2025.

“It is our duty to supply our member cooperatives with the power they need to serve the Williston Basin,” said Basin Electric CEO and general manager Paul Sukut. “In the face of rising demand, the commercial operation of Lonesome Creek Units 2 and 3 is an important step toward meeting our members’ power needs.”

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at