Operational Excellence

Integrated Test Center at Dry Fork Station in Gillette, WY

The Wyoming Integrated Test Center (ITC) is being built at Dry Fork Station near Gillette, WY, with the goal of advancing Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) technologies.

The NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE will be the first tenant of the Wyoming ITC.

In July, a total of 47 entries seven countries applied to contend for the $20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE. Competing teams hail from Canada, China, India, Finland, Switzerland, Scotland and the United States. An advisory board of nine leading experts in the fields of chemical and biological engineering, energy and sustainability, and public policy, will advise the Carbon XPRIZE.

In October 2016, the Basin Electric board narrowed the field of contenders to 15 teams and, in January 2017, the final five teams will be selected. Each of these five teams will be awarded a $2.5 million dollar prize and after a two-year test period, the board will award the winner a $7.5 million dollar prize.

Cyber security helps ensure reliable grid

The North American Electrical Reliability Corporation (NERC) sets and enforces standards that address the reliable operation of the electric grid on two fronts: operations and planning, and cyber and physical security. 

A significant aspect about NERC compliance is that Version 5 of the CIP standards went into effect on July 1. CIP refers to Critical Infrastructure Protection, which applies to securing our cyber assets that support our Bulk Electric Systems.

This new version of CIP standards is very significant to Basin Electric. It’s a big transition that requires a tremendous amount of cross-cooperative coordination.

The requirements of this standard include having a list of all equipment that needs to be protected and designating compliance responsibility over that equipment. Within CIP 5, we identified 13 medium impact facilities and 180 low impact facilities. For the medium impact facilities, Basin Electric must implement all of the standards and requirements.

NERC standards touch every department, in some capacity, within Basin Electric, and Version 5 of the CIP standards will impact Basin Electric in many ways. 

Benefits of joining Southwest Power Pool

We estimate we’ve been capturing up to a couple million dollars a month benefit from being a member of SPP (Southwest Power Pool) versus being outside the market. Of course, it varies by month based on what prices are doing, what’s happening on the transmission system with congestion and a number of different elements.

This all has all been happening in a commodity down cycle and a winter that never quite showed up last December through March. While national natural gas production and inventories remained high, loads were below average due to the mild temps compounding the problem.

Additionally, SPP has added a lot of wind generation to its generation mix. During late winter/early spring, with loads down, at one point wind accounted for 49.5 percent of SPP’s energy resources in the market.

Given the amount of must-run coal baseload generation in the market and the gas peaking generation running to regulate the wind, there ended up being a glut of energy in the market, so prices got very soft.

  • John Jacobs, senior vice president of Operations
  • Mike Risan, senior vice president of Transmission
  • Ken Rutter, senior vice president of Marketing & Asset Management