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Committee sets state energy goals

BISMARCK--North Dakota should work to double the amount of electric power it exports, build at least one new coal-fired electric generating plant, and boost renewable fuels and power production exponentially, as state group recommended today.

The Empower Commission, created last year by the Legislature, released 10 major goals this morning and is recommending them to a legislative committee today.

The top 10 goals are:

*Double North Dakota's energy production from all sources by the year 2025, from the baseline of Dec. 31, 2006, to drive economic growth and help the nation achieve greater energy independence.

*Support the nation's 25X25 Initiative to derive at least 25 percent of all energy produced from renewable sources by 2025.

*Increase installed capacity of wind generation to 1,500 megawatts by 2020.

*Increase North Dakota's export capacity of electricity to 4,000 megawatts.

*Build one, and possibly more, clean-coal electric generation plants in North Dakota.

*Produce 450 million gallons of ethanol by 2011 and develop both in-state and out-of-state markets for ethanol and associated byproducts.

*Build new biodiesel plants in North Dakota to produce 135 million gallons by 2015.

*Encourage development of economically feasible refining projects in North Dakota.

*Be recognized as the sixth largest oil-producing state nationally, up from current position as the eighth largest oil-producing state.

*Increase the amount of natural gas processed in North Dakota by 64 percent to 75 billion cubic feet per year by 2012.

The commission also developed 40 policy recommendations.

The commission, which worked for 10 months on its document, represents both traditional energy industries such as coal and oil, as well as companies and groups that are developing ethanol, biodiesel and wind farms. Its members were appointed by Gov. John Hoeven.

"Our focus with Empower ND has been to develop all of our energy resources in tandem - both traditional and renewable - along with new technologies and strong environmental stewardship," Hoeven said. "We are building on the real and significant progress currently underway in North Dakota to maximize the potential of our energy resources and be a leader in developing sustainable, environmentally sound energy solutions for the state and the nation."

Commission members are:

Ron Day of Tesoro, representing the refining or gas-processing industry; Terry Goerger, a farmer near Mantador, representing the agriculture industry; Shane Goettle, Commissioner of Commerce; Paul Goulding of Goulding's Oil, representing petroleum marketers ; Eric Mack of Archer Daniels Midland, representing the biodiesel industry; Ron Ness of the North Dakota Petroleum Council; Curtis Jabs of Basin Electric Power Cooperative, representing generation and transmission electric cooperatives; Mark Nisbet of Xcel Energy, representing the wind industry; Randy Schneider, chairman of the North Dakota Ethanol Producer's Association; Andrea Stomberg of MDU, representing investor-owned utilities; David Straley of North American Coal Corp., representing the lignite coal industry; Sandi Tabor of the Lignite Energy Council; John Weeda of Great River Energy, representing the biomass industry, and Chuck MacFarlane of Otter Tail Power Co.