Basin Electric is one of the largest generation and transmission cooperatives in the nation. Headquartered in the Upper Midwest since 1961, our roots in rural America are deep. Our vast service territory provides the ability to leverage both the Western and Eastern Interconnections and several regional transmission organizations. Our diverse generation fleet, both in fuel mix and in location, positions us well to reliably serve our members’ load as it changes over time.
Sixty years of relationships, infrastructure, knowledge, and commitment to the consumer at the end of the line delivers prosperity and quality of life to the consumers and communities we serve and operate in.
Our commitment to provide reliable, affordable, and responsible energy to our members hasn’t wavered. Our story is one of people helping people bring a necessity of life — electricity — to rural America through leadership, innovation, and fortitude.
Delivering reliable power isn’t easy. Basin Electric’s decades-long investments in resources and infrastructure have been upheld in extreme circumstances. Our dedicated workforce, continued care and maintenance of the cooperative’s generation and transmission facilities, along with fuel planning and preparation, have carried Basin Electric’s member load with stability, most recently through a global pandemic and extreme weather events.
Keys to Reliable, Stable Energy
Basin Electric owns and operates generation facilities, steel-in-the-ground as is said in the industry, across five states. These facilities are fully managed by Basin Electric, the embodiment of the cooperative’s all-of-the-above strategy to keep reliable, affordable power flowing to our members. The fleet is balanced with both dispatchable and non-dispatchable units: from baseload facilities fueled by coal that is ready to use at the power plant site, to peaking facilities fueled by natural gas or fuel oil, to large wind projects in two states, with one in South Dakota being the largest owned solely by a cooperative in the United States.
Generation, however, can’t move without transmission. The knowledge and expertise in the cooperative’s transmission system planning, construction, and operations provides continuous opportunities to create value. As Basin Electric’s generating resources become more dispersed geographically, and as generation becomes less dispatchable due to the addition of renewable generation, the value and importance of our transmission only increases.
Our large geographic footprint brings value to our membership in a number of ways, including a diversity in the sectors of load we serve: residential, industrial, and agricultural. While industrial load can be more volatile, it often brings more growth; while residential load is generally stable, future growth or decline is more predictable. Agricultural load tends to fluctuate with weather and commodity prices.
Owning and operating facilities across different regional transmission organizations is valuable as well. Basin Electric participates in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), Midcontinent ISO (MISO), and the western bilateral markets. In the west, we also participate in SPP’s Western Energy Imbalance Service Market.
Fuel, ready and available onsite, is also an advantage to maintaining reliable generation. Two of Basin Electric’s coal-based generation facilities, Antelope Valley Station and Dry Fork Station, are considered “mine to mouth,” situated near a coal mine with very little transportation necessary. Though Leland Olds Station and Laramie River Station are not mine to mouth facilities, these power plants also receive their coal from affiliated companies through long-term contracts and keep coal piles on site with more than a month of burn capability at full load.
Maintenance to Compete in the Market
Basin Electric maintains a robust winterization of all generation units. The cooperative takes into consideration the lowest temperature expected during winter and makes sure each unit can run in the extreme cold of the region. Each fall, Operations team members check and blow out water systems, check all heat tracing and insulation, and place heaters in areas where it will be cold. When cold weather is on the way, or SPP issues an alert, team members are intentional about maintenance, focusing on maintaining reliability.
In July, the Midwest Reliability Organization (MRO) surveyed a sample population of generating units in the region. Basin Electric’s Deer Creek Station, a natural gas-fueled combined cycle generator, was selected to participate in the MRO Cold Weather Preparedness survey. Deer Creek Station had been retrofitted with a complete winter protection enclosure a few years after the plant was initially constructed which virtually eliminated all cold weather issues at Deer Creek Station. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval, has revised three NERC Reliability Standards to now include cold weather preparedness requirements. As a generator owner, Basin Electric will need to have a documented cold weather preparedness plan, perform and document all cold weather-related tasks, and provide cold weather preparedness training to its applicable generating personnel. These standards become effective on April 1, 2023, and Basin Electric is prepared to meet the requirements.
Coal-based generation facilities made a change in 2020 that had been considered, but not moved forward, until the COVID-19 global pandemic disrupted outage schedules. Facilities had been on a three-year outage cycle to coincide with boiler inspections on a schedule mandated by North Dakota law. After it was determined that boiler inspections could be done during a minor outage, coal-based facilities across the cooperative are now on a four-year outage cycle. The move saves money, minimizing costs to operate competitively, and also saves unit downtime.