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Pioneer Station Unit 3 goes commercial

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Each of the three units at Pioneer Generation Station has 45 megawatts of generation capacity giving the station a total rating of 135 megawatts.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s Pioneer Generation Station, a natural gas-based peaking station northwest of Williston, ND, started commercial operation of Unit 3 on March 1 to help provide much-needed electrical stability in the Williston Basin.

Pioneer Station Unit 1 started commercial operation in September 2013, and the plant’s Unit 2 started commercial operation Feb. 1, 2014. Each of the three units has 45 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity giving the station a total rating of 135 MW.

Basin Electric’s Lonesome Creek Station, a natural gas-based peaking station west of Watford City, ND, is also helping serve electrical needs in the Williston Basin. Lonesome Creek Station started commercial operation of Unit 1, rated at 45 MW, on Dec. 1, 2013 with the construction of two additional 45-MW units targeted for completion in late 2014.

Unit 1 of both the Pioneer and Lonesome Creek stations features a clutch that allows the turbine to uncouple from the generator, allowing the generator to provide transmission system voltage support. This feature, if needed, is used to provide fast-acting reactive power which will stabilize the transmission system in the area.

The oil play in the Bakken formation covers parts of western North Dakota and eastern Montana. Crude oil production in the North Dakota has quadrupled since 2007. As a result of the drilling and production activity and the associated support services and housing growth, electrical loads are growing rapidly. Basin Electric member cooperatives serve much of that load. In 2009 Basin Electric and its member systems planned for 400 megawatts of load to develop in this area. Basin Electric is now planning for loads to grow an additional 1,200 megawatts by 2025.

“We are building additional generation and transmission, and we are also purchasing power to address this tremendous growth,” says Paul Sukut, Basin Electric interim CEO and general manager. “The commercial operation of Pioneer Generation Station Unit 3 is a critical step toward meeting our members’ power needs.”

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