North Dakota PSC reviews wind project that will supply Basin Electric

A North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) hearing on the proposed Brady Wind Energy Center was full March 30 in Dickinson, ND.

More than 150 people attended the day-long hearing, which included testimony from people both supporting and opposing the proposed project in southern Stark County, North Dakota.

The project would be built by Brady Wind LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources. Basin Electric would purchase the electricity from the 87-turbine wind project to help meet members’ electrical needs in the Williston Basin and further diversify the cooperative’s generation portfolio.

Basin Electric’s 2016-2036 load forecast, the main tool for power supply planning, financial forecasting and rate planning, shows member requirements are projected to increase 1,350 megawatts over the next 20 years – even with oil prices at 12-year lows. The forecast shows growth at 1.4 percent annually across the membership.

To meet the growing demand, Basin Electric is building additional natural gas-based peaking generation in northwestern North Dakota, along with a 120-mile 345-kilovolt transmission project to meet reliability and system stability requirements for the region. The cooperative has also committed to purchasing the output from the 75-turbine Lindahl Wind Project near Tioga, ND, which is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2016.

In addition to the increase in projected load forecast, Basin Electric will need to consider additional wind development to meet new environmental standards developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s Stay of the rule in February, a final decision on the rule’s legality has yet to be made, and Basin Electric acknowledges movement toward a carbon-constrained world.

Basin Electric plans to file comments to the PSC, which is expected to make a ruling on the proposed project within the next 60 days.