Basin Electric building peaking stations

Two new natural gas-fired peaking stations are being built in the oil patch by Basin Electric Power Cooperative to help meet the increased demands of electricity in that area.

The Pioneer Generation Station is being built about 15 miles northwest of Williston and the Lonesome Creek Station is being constructed about 15 miles west of Watford City.

Daryl Hill, Bismarck, manager of media and communications relations for Basin Electric, said the Pioneer Station Phase I project is scheduled for commercial operation in June.

He said the Lonesome Creek Phase I project is scheduled for commercial operation in late July.

Hill spoke to members of the North Dakota Professional Communicators at its April conference in Minot.

He said the two units will be fired by natural gas and have a generating capacity of 45-megawatts.

Both sites will primarily be used to support the local transmission system and serve loads developing in the area.

Hill said each of these first two units will be unique in that they’ll feature a clutch, which will allow each unit to act as a “synchronous condenser” for voltage support even when the units are not generating electricity. The clutch allows the turbine to disconnect from the generator after the unit is on line. The unit will still be connected to the grid, which will provide voltage support. Leaving the unit connected will help protect the transmission system from any surges. This feature will be used only when necessary.

Hill said they’re also in the development stage for Phase II at each site. Phase II includes the addition of two more (virtually) identical units at each site with the exception that the four additional units will not have the clutch feature.

The permitting process is already under way, Hill said. There is one hearing yet to be held for the Pioneer Phase II project the North Dakota Department of Health will hold an air permit hearing for the two units at the Pioneer Station.

“We’ve already received an energy conversion facility siting permit on March 27 from the N.D. Public Service Commission for Pioneer Phase II,” he said. Construction for Pioneer Phase II is scheduled to begin this summer and be operational by the end of 2013.

He said a permit application (siting) for Lonesome Creek Phase II is currently being prepared for the N.D. Public Service Commission. A permit to the N.D. Department of Health is also being prepared for Phase II at Lonesome Creek. Once all permits have been received, construction for Lonesome Creek Phase II is scheduled to start in 2014, and be operational by the end of 2014.

Basin Electric Cooperative, with headquarters in Bismarck, is a wholesale electric generation and transmission cooperative that provides electricity to customers in nine states.

“We make electricity. We do it on a wholesale basis and the electricity that we make is used by consumers from the Canadian border to the Mexican border,” Hill said.

Originally from Roseglen, Hill said when he started with Basin Electric 34 years ago the cooperative had fewer than 1,000 employees. “We’ve virtually doubled in size from there,” he said.

Last month, Basin Electric came out with a 2013 load forecast and the majority of the growth is in northwest North Dakota and northeast Montana area.

“We’re seeing a tremendous amount of growth up there and the demand for electricity that we’re going to have to meet,” Hill said.

“As that load is increasing, it’s our obligation to our members to have facilities online and running to make that electricity so that they can meet their demand,” Hill said.

Besides the construction of the natural gas-fired peaking stations near Williston and Watford City, he said another way is to meet the demands is to build transmission lines.

He said Basin Electric is working on plans for a 345,000-volt transmission line from the Antelope Valley Station, a power plant near Beulah, to northwest North Dakota. The line would go west and then north to near Killdeer, then to Williston and then east to Tioga. The transmission line would cover about 200 miles.

He said Basin Electric submitted an application for the Antelope Valley Station to Neset 345-kV Transmission Project on March 15. A public hearing regarding this project will probably be held in September but no official dates have been announced.

Hill said Basin Electric continuously evaluates its existing and future electrical load demands on the transmission delivery systems throughout its entire service territory.

“With the load forecasts increasing, additional transmission projects are being evaluated beyond our ongoing projects that would also maintain/enhance system reliability to the regions that are seeing increases,” Hill said.

He said one of the potential system improvement projects that is currently being evaluated is a transmission line originating from the Leland Olds Station near Stanton that would interconnect with our existing facilities in the Minot and Tioga areas.