Lonesome Creek Station and Pioneer Generation Station generate more electricity than ever before in 2023

In 2023, Lonesome Creek Station near Watford City, North Dakota, and Pioneer Generation Station near Williston, North Dakota, generated more megawatt-hours in 2023 than any year since both sites began generating electricity in 2013.

According to Joe Fiedler, Basin Electric manager of Distributed Generation, Lonesome Creek Station ended the year with 1.1 million megawatt-hours (MWh), and Pioneer Generation Station ended the year with just over 1 million.

Fiedler said these generation totals are a result of the lower than forecasted natural gas prices, the flexibility of the gas fleet to be able to meet load quickly, and the increased electricity needed in the Bakken region where Lonesome Creek and Pioneer Generation Station are located. “Units in the Bakken region ran quite a bit more due to increased load and limited transmission into the area,” said Fiedler.

Units like Pioneer and Lonesome Creek are critical to keeping electricity reliable in western North Dakota. “Most of Basin Electric’s gas peaking units are fast-start units,” Cody Schoonover, Basin Electric Real Time Trading supervisor in Marketing, said. “The units have a 10-minute startup which can be used for variable load. They’re committed, they’re started quickly, and then when they’re on, they have the ability to follow the load,” Schoonover said. “They’ll follow the wind and have the ability to dispatch up and down more quickly than some of our other resources do.”

Basin Electric is adding new generation and transmission to serve increased member load. These projects include:

  • The Leland Olds Station-to-Tande transmission project, a 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission line and substation, will enhance the transmission load serving capability in western North Dakota;
  • The Roundup-to-Kumer Ridge transmission project, a 345-kV transmission line, is needed due to load growth in western North Dakota; and
  • Pioneer Generation Station Phase IV (PGSIV), Basin Electric’s largest single site electric generation project since the 1980s will generate about 600 megawatts of natural gas northwest of Williston, North Dakota, and use a combination of combustion turbines and reciprocating engines to help meet the increased need for electricity.

These projects will address near-term load growth and long-term stability in the Bakken region.

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