Earthwork begins on Pioneer Generation Station Phase IV site

equipment moving dirt and snow
Earthwork began on Mar. 22 at the Pioneer Generation Station Phase IV construction site near Williston, North Dakota.

Snow removal and earthwork began Mar. 22 at the construction site for Pioneer Generation Station Phase IV (PGSIV), Basin Electric’s newest generation project.

PGSIV will generate about 600 megawatts (MW) of electricity near the existing Pioneer Generation Station northwest of Williston, North Dakota. The new natural gas-fueled generation will be a combination of combustion turbine and reciprocating engine units to provide dispatch flexibility while addressing near-term load growth and long-term grid stability in the Bakken region.

Darrell Slavick, Basin Electric field coordinator III – North Dakota, said there are 10 contract personnel working on site currently. Earthwork is focused in the area where the combustion turbine and generator will be located. “As they move dirt, they dig what they call a 'bathtub,' which is typically down as far as where the bottom of piping will be located and the bottom of the foundation. Then they work their way back up with gravel,” Slavick said. “In April, they will start drilling auger cast piles. Those are used for ground stabilization; basically a hole is drilled and filled with concrete, and those piles or pilings will help hold the weight of the turbine foundations.”

Slavick said safety is the main focus throughout the project. “We do a daily job hazard analysis, where we talk about what is going on that day, and what areas to avoid due to the work being done there. For example, we talk about where big haul trucks will be moving on site,” he said. “Right now, the sun has a lot of power to it so freezing and thawing is an issue. Water is pooling in ruts during the day and freezing by morning, so there are icy conditions and trip hazards to be aware of.” In some areas of the site, snow was two feet deep when it was moved.

Burns & McDonnell is the EPC (engineer, procure, construction) contractor. Jim Lund, Basin Electric senior mechanical engineer and project coordinator, said the decision was made to use an EPC contractor due to the tight timeline for the project. At the height of construction, there will be nearly 300 contractors on site.

Estimates place the budget at approximately $780 million, which includes both generation and transmission assets. The first phase of the project includes one simple-cycle combustion turbine, which will produce up to 250 MW, a series of reciprocated engines totaling about 110 MW, and 15 miles of 345-kilovolt transmission line, all to be in service in 2025. The second phase includes an additional simple-cycle combustion turbine to produce up to 250 MW to be in service in 2026.

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