Basin Electric’s load forecast takes sharp fall from year-ago figures

The forecast shows growth at 1.4 percent annually across the membership

At its January meeting, Basin Electric’s board of directors approved the cooperative’s new load forecast for 2016-2036. The forecast shows Basin Electric’s service area is growing at twice the rate of the rest of the United States, even with oil prices at 12-year lows, according to Jay Lundstrom, Basin Electric lead load forecast analyst.

Lundstrom said the forecast shows member requirements will increase 1,350 megawatts over the next 20 years, which is 739 megawatts lower than the forecast released in 2015. Lundstrom said the load forecast is the main tool for power supply planning, financial forecasting and rate planning.

The forecast shows growth at 1.4 percent annually across the membership. “In the Williston Basin, what we’re seeing now is our members are taking a little bit of time to breathe. They’re taking vacations, catching up on work orders and hook-ups. So that’s a good thing, when you look at it from the electric co-op employee’s point of view. From the customer side, it’s not necessarily a good thing,” Lundstrom said. “But talking to other companies and cooperatives, they’re envious of our growth. One-and-a-half percent growth right now is pretty much unheard of.”

The Keystone XL pipeline has been removed from the forecast, following an announcement from Pres. Barack Obama in Nov. 2015, to halt construction on the pipeline addition.

Lundstrom said Powder River Energy Corporation is the only district showing a decline. PRECorp’s growth is down less than a percent, mainly due to the adjustments coal mines are making due to the release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.