Supplying a Bakken power playWith population numbers in North Dakota exploding in recent years due to Bakken oil activity, projects to improve infrastructure on the western side of the state are plentiful.
By: Bryan Horwath, The Dickinson Press
With population numbers in North Dakota exploding in recent years due to Bakken oil activity, projects to improve infrastructure on the western side of the state are plentiful.
One of the next major projects on the docket is a $300 million transmission line being proposed by Basin Electric Power Cooperative, supplier for Roughrider Electric, a major power provider in western North Dakota.
Most of the project would be financed U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service. Public hearings on the proposal — which would place modern and more efficient steel power along a 190-mile path weaving through several western North Dakota counties — will take place next month in Killdeer and Williston.
“With what’s going on now in western North Dakota and eastern Montana with regard to energy development, we’re expecting a continued increase in demand for electricity,” saidBEPC spokesman Daryl Hill. “This project would be a big boost to system reliability and would be an improvement over the existing infrastructure.”
The line would begin at the Antelope Valley Station, a coal-based power plant located seven miles northwest of Beulah, and travel west to a substation 18 miles west of Killdeer before weaving north to near Williston and then east, ending at the Neset substation outside Tioga. The line would wind through Dunn, McKenzie, Mercer, Mountrail and Williams counties.
An environmental impact statement on the project has been completed and is available on the USDA website.
“Without this new transmission line, we believe there could be interruptions to service in some areas in the coming years,” said Hill. “One way to make sure we have enough power supply is to build more power plants. Another way is to build more transmission lines. It’s our obligation to provide our customers with increased supply as demand grows.”
Hill and BEPC Project Coordinations Representative Curt Pearson said impacts on the environment and traffic from the project — which is targeted to have a 2016 completion date — would be minimal.
“Part of the reason is because of the newer design of the single-pole steel structures,” said Pearson. “The footprint of these structures is much smaller. This will be similar to the Belfield terrain project we completed in southwest North Dakota.”
Five to seven steel pole structures will be erected per mile along the transmission line, according to the BEPC website. Landowners along the route of the line will be contacted and, if requested, compensated for easements made and any crop damage resulting from construction, according to BEPC project blueprints.
“We expect a lot of discussion about a line like this,” said Hill. “We’re eager to hear about any questions or concerns community members might have. We think this is going to be a good thing for western North Dakota.”
Hill said most of the project’s financing would come from the RUS. BEPC officials do not expect any major traffic concerns resulting from construction of the new transmission line because it will be away from major truck routes, Hill said.
A public hearing will take place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 15 at American Legion Hall Post 46 in Killdeer and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. the following day at the Ernie French Center of the North Dakota State University Research Extension office in Williston. Comments can also be sent electronically to RUS Environmental Protection Specialist Dennis Rankin’s email at email@example.com.