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Powering up the oil patch

Posted 6/19/13 (Wed)

Powering up the oil patch

By Zach Stenberg
Farmer Intern

With the influx of people and businesses moving into northwest North Dakota, Basin Electric Power Cooperative of Bismarck is getting ready to go on line with enough power to provide electricity to 36,000 homes in this rapidly growing region of the state.
The new Lonesome Creek Station 45-megawatt capacity power plant, which is estimated to cost $64.5 million, is located about 13 miles west of Watford City.
The plant is currently in Phase I. Basin Electric has plans to add two more identical turbines to the site in the next year.
“We build power plants because we have to,” says Daryl Hill, manager of Media and Communications Relations with Basin Electric. “We have in the works two more units at Lonesome Creek and two more units at our Pioneer Plant, northwest of Williston. We will have six units operating in 2015.”
When these six turbines all are online, Basin Electric will be putting enough power into the grid to serve 216,000 homes in northwest North Dakota.
Basin Electric is in the wholesale business of selling power to electric cooperatives, such as McKenzie Electric, in the upper Midwest.
The Lonesome Creek started its dirt work last July and currently has about 65 to 75 workers working six 10-hour days.
“There will probably be around 100 guys working on site here shortly to finish Phase I,” states Chris Johnson, project manager.
Natural gas from the nearby Northern Border Pipeline will be the fuel source powering the turbines.
“There will be no flame at the plant and the only emissions at the plant will be steam from the filtering of the natural gas,” says Johnson.
The Lonesome Creek Station has the capacity to use 10,050,000 cubic feet of natural gas per day.
KLJ, a North Dakota engineering firm, released their independent forecast last October concurring with Basin Electric’s projections of potential load growth levels in the Williston Basin over the next 20 years.
“With projections in recent studies showing that we will need another 1,000 megawatts of load growth in the next 10 years,” says Hill, “our focus for growth is in the Williston and McKenzie County area.”
Basin Electric is currently proposing to construct, own, and operate a new 345-kv transmission line and associated supporting infrastructure. The proposed Antelope Valley Station to Williston-Tioga transmission path is approximately 190 miles of new single and double-circuit transmission lines.
The construction also includes two new substations, modifications to three existing substations and the 345-kv switch yard, river crossings, temporary construction staging sites, and other facilities.
The proposed project would run from Antelope Valley Station near Beulah, connecting to substations near Grassy Butte and Williston, and then end at the Neset Substation near Tioga.
With the increasing demand for electricity, this line will improve the reliability of the existing system and make the infrastructure stronger throughout the region.
The transmission line project is currently going through regulatory approvals and is scheduled to begin construction in 2014 with an estimated cost of $350 million.