Monday, September 15, 2014

Basin Electric gets approval for delayed transmission line

Basin Electric gets approval for delayed transmission line

Basin Electric Power Cooperative has received federal approval to construct a 200-mile power transmission line in western North Dakota.
The power line, which will start at the cooperative’s Antelope Valley Station and end in Tioga, recently went through the federal approval process and public comment periods for sections of the line on federal land. Basin Electric hopes to complete the transmission project by 2017.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service and the U.S. Forest Service have both signed records of decision. Approval is still needed from the Western Area Power Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers but construction can start in areas outside of the two remaining agencies’ jurisdiction.
The cooperative first announced the project in 2011 as to address increased demand in the region. In 2013, a group called the Killdeer Mountain Alliance raised concerns over the transmission line’s proximity to the historic Killdeer Mountain Battlefield.
Mary Miller, a spokeswoman for Basin Electric, said the group’s concerns were taken into account during the federal public comment period. The transmission line was approved before a two-year National Park Service study of five historic battlefields, including Killdeer Mountain, could be completed.
“The approval of this line is a significant step forward in serving the tremendous growth in the Williston Basin and beyond,” Paul Sukut, Basin Electric chief executive officer, said in a statement.
The portion of the line from Charlie Creek Substation west of Beulah to the Antelope Valley Station will be the first constructed, Miller said.
In addition to the 345-kilovolt transmission lines, two new substations and modifications to three existing substations are among other facilities included in the project, Miller said.
“Transmission line projects like this help to build necessary critical infrastructure,” Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said in a statement.
Basin Electric also announced other plans for expanding capacity in western North Dakota Monday. The cooperative predicts the need for an additional 1,800 megawatts of power generation capacity by 2035 and is expanding its natural gas fired power stations to meet it.
The Basin Electric board of directors approved a third phase for the Lonesome Creek Station west of Watford City and Pioneer Generation Station northwest of Williston. The two natural gas powered stations are used during peak hours of electricity use.
Lonesome Creek Station will be expanded to include three more 45-megawatt natural gas turbines. The stations first unit started operation on Dec. 1, 2013. Two other units are under construction and set for completion this year. The expansion will bring the station to six units total.
Pioneer Station’s expansion will add 112 megawatts of additional peaking capacity. Pioneer Station Unit 1 started operation in Sept. 2013, the second unit started Feb. 1 and Unit 3 started March 1. The third phase will bring total generation at the state to 247 megawatts.
Construction of the third phases are slated for late spring 2015 and should be completed by June 2016.