Thursday, September 12, 2013

Power-hungry Oil Patch creates need for controversial power line

Power-hungry Oil Patch creates need for controversial power line

Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service
WILLISTON, N.D. – The need for power in oil-producing counties is projected to grow more than 1,000 megawatts by 2025, but a proposed transmission line to deliver that electricity is drawing environmental and cultural concerns.
The Public Service Commission held a third and final hearing Thursday in Williston on Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s proposed 197-mile transmission line to meet the power demands in the Oil Patch.
The 345-kilovolt transmission line starts at the Antelope Valley Station near Beulah, heads west through Killdeer, north through Williston and ends at a substation near Tioga.
Connie Triplett, a state senator from Grand Forks who also serves with the grassroots group the Badlands Conservation Alliance, asked commissioners to send Basin Electric back to the drawing board.
Triplett said the company should find an alternative that avoids sensitive areas such as the Badlands, the Killdeer Mountain Battlefield area and the area outside of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Triplett said the peace and solitude of the national park is already being disturbed by construction, oil wells and natural gas flaring outside the park boundaries.
“A gigantic power line is just another thing in a long line,” Triplett said. “At some point, the cumulative effect adds up to a greatly diminished experience.”
Anne Marguerite Coyle, biology professor for Jamestown College who has researched golden eagles in the Killdeer area, testified that the transmission line would have a high impact on wildlife in the area. In particular, the route is a dense nesting area for golden eagles, Coyle said.
Cris Miller, environmental administrator for Basin Electric, said the company is working to minimize the environmental and cultural impact of the project. The amount of land that will be permanently lost after the project is complete is 1 acre, Miller said.
Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak pointed out that the word “loss” is subjective and others may view it differently than Miller.
Basin Electric has committed to relocate a proposed substation that would have been in the study area to determine the boundaries of the Killdeer Mountain Battlefield.
“It was the responsible thing to do,” said Curt Pearson, a company spokesman.