Basin Electric to begin construction after transmission line gets final approval

A transmission project to help provide electrical reliability and stability in the Williston Basin got the final nod from two federal agencies and is set to begin construction.

The U.S. Forest Service and the Rural Utilities Service recently gave the go-ahead in separate records of decision. Approval from the Western Area Power Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is still forthcoming; however, the project can start construction in areas outside the two agencies’ areas of authority.

In 2011, Basin Electric announced plans to build a 200-mile 345 kV transmission line from its Antelope Valley Station north of Beulah, N.D, to Tioga, N.D. The project is intended to meet the need for additional electric transmission capacity in northwestern North Dakota as a result of increased demand, and to meet reliability and system stability requirements for the region.

Construction on the transmission line and associated supporting infrastructure is slated for completion in segments, with expectations of the entire project in service by 2017.

Basin Electric and its member cooperatives also identified a need for additional power generation capacity in the Williston Basin. Forecasts predict an additional 1,800 MW of generation capacity will be needed by 2035 to serve growing electrical needs. In response, Basin Electric will be expanding two peaking stations located in the region.

The Basin Electric board approved Phase III for both Lonesome Creek Station, a natural gas-based peaking station west of Watford City, N.D., and Pioneer Generation Station, a natural gas-based peaking station northwest of Williston, N.D.

Phase III for Lonesome Creek Station will consist of the addition of three 45 MW combustion turbines. Lonesome Creek Station started commercial operation of 45 MW Unit 1 on Dec. 1, 2013, and construction of two additional units — Phase II — is targeted for completion in late 2014.

Phase III for Pioneer Station will consist of 112 MW of additional peaking capacity. This project consists of 12 reciprocating engines each rated at 9.3 MW nominal. Pioneer Station Unit 1 started commercial operation in September 2013, the plant’s Unit 2 started commercial operation Feb. 1, 2014, and Unit 3 started commercial operation March 1, 2014. With the addition of Phase III, Pioneer Station will have 247 MW of generation capacity.

Construction on Phase III at both Lonesome Creek Station and Pioneer Station is slated to begin in late spring 2015, and completion is targeted for June 2016.

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