Supporting Growth and Innovation
Planning for load growth
Basin Electric’s board of directors approved the cooperative’s 2016 load forecast in January. Even with oil prices around 50 dollars per barrel and natural gas prices around 3 dollars per dekatherm, the forecast shows growth is expected to continue across Basin Electric’s membership.
The 2016 load forecast shows power needs across its membership are projected to increase 1,360 megawatts from 2015 to 2035. That’s growth at 1.4 percent annually across the membership.
Market purchases, natural gas and wind generation alternatives are currently the most economical generation sources to meet our growing member load levels, but the cooperative is leaving no stone unturned.
Several of Basin Electric’s members have asked about incorporating solar as a resource option. The cooperative is considering how to best incorporate both small and large solar into our generation fleet, and we continue to work with you, the membership, as we develop a solar resource strategy.
Through 2016, Basin Electric has helped with development of small solar projects located on the member distribution systems through financial incentives. Basin Electric has been buying the output of small member and consumer owned projects with an incentive purchase rate of 50 dollars per megawatt-hour to help make these projects feasible.
Finding innovative solutions
Innovation is critical to ensure the long-term viability of the cooperative.
In addition to the Integrated Test Center that was talked about earlier, Basin Electric is looking at and helping to develop some exciting technologies that could help preserve the role for fossil fuels in a carbon-constrained world. Among them are a potential carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration project with the Energy and Environmental Research Center, and the Allam Cycle.
The vision for the Allam Cycle consists of gasifying lignite coal to produce synthetic natural gas, which would then be used along with oxygen and carbon dioxide to drive a turbine generator.
The technology could provide Dakota Gas another source of marketable CO2 to be used for enhanced oil recovery or other purposes, and provide Basin Electric a more efficient and CO2 emission-free way of generating electricity using lignite coal.
Several state legislators and energy industry representatives toured an Allam Cycle gas demonstration plant in September in Texas.
The demonstration site in Texas could be followed by a large demonstration project in North Dakota tied back to Dakota Gas, which would run on either natural gas or gasified coal.
Basin Electric is actively working to make this a possibility by partnering with EERC and others to complete needed research on the Allam Cycle. At the same time, we are looking forward to how such a project might be funded and who those project partners might be.
Responsible Care aligns our safety, health, security and environmental efforts. Our mechanical integrity and continuous improvement programs all play a part in achieving success within the program.
Responsible Care focuses on measuring risk. We continue to mitigate that risk by enhancing programs such as pipeline reliability and maintenance.
Our pipeline integrity program is used to monitor our nearly 250 miles of pipeline. We use pipeline internal gauges, known as pigs, to collect important data. With new technology, we’ve gone from running several pigs to capture data, to running one.
Austerity and fiscal responsibility are also components of risk mitigation. When revenues change a company needs to react in a prudent manner by reducing expenses while focusing on safety, reliability and environmental compliance. We have done that, realizing $26 million dollars in savings over the revised 2016 budget.
Our employees have dug deep and thought hard to help with austerity. They have been active in reviewing daily processes, procedures and actions to identify ways to save dollars.
We are not replacing employees if the opportunity affords us the ability to combine positions. We’ve increased our training efforts to make sure we have the necessary skills without hiring additional staff. We have used our own resources to complete projects versus hiring contract help.
- Dave Raatz, vice president of Cooperative Planning
- Matt Greek, senior vice president of Engineering & Construction
- Dave Sauer, senior vice president and COO, Dakota Gasification Company