Optimizing Operations Overview

Optimizing Operations panel

From left: John Jacobs, Dave Sauer, Ken Rutter, and moderator Mike Easley, Members 1st Power Cooperative.

What efforts were made the past year to capture the most value from the electric generating facilities, distributed generation fleet, and the Great Plains Synfuels Plant, were the focus of the Optimizing Operations panel at Basin Electric’s 2018 Annual Meeting.

John Jacobs, senior vice president of Operations, said, “When you think about optimizing operations, most people would look to what we’ve done in the past year to positively influence the value of operating the assets for the benefit of our members.”

Outages, environmental systems construction, cutting costs, reducing staffing, and finding the most efficient way to operate these facilities in an ever-changing energy marketplace were topics Jacobs discussed.

Dave Sauer, Dakota Gas COO and senior vice president, echoed Jacobs’ remarks on cost cutting measures, noting appreciation for The Coteau Properties Company’s Freedom Mine’s recent coal cost evaluation and adjustments. “Coteau has been a great partner in keeping our coal costs low,” he said, “and we very much appreciate their efforts.”

Sauer spoke of the recent reorganization at the Synfuels Plant and the focus and challenges of operating the Synfuels Plant at a net benefit to Basin Electric. The urea production facility began operation Jan. 19, and Sauer said the unit will help attain that net benefit. “It was quite an exciting time to see that urea fall to the barn floor,” Sauer said.

Noting some challenges the past year regarding the startup and operation of the new urea facility, Sauer said the unit has run at 115 percent capacity. “Although we have had challenges along the way, we’ve worked hard to overcome these challenges and the facility is operating at about 89 percent capacity today,” Sauer said.

Ken Rutter, director of DGC/BEPC portfolio management, described the new N-7 partnership between Dakota Gas and OCI, detailing the advantages it brings to marketing the fertilizer products from the Synfuels Plant. “Although marketing products continues to be challenged by low commodity prices, it is important to develop new and innovative ways to maximize the value of these products,” Rutter said.

“There have been many challenges the past couple of years and many lie ahead, but we have staff who continue to be energized and determined to be focused on the bottom line revenues growth that must happen,” Rutter said.