Basin Electric brings more Bakken generation online

Depressed oil prices may have slowed growth in the Williston Basin, but the region’s demand for electricity is still on the rise.

Basin Electric has brought more generation capacity online to help meet that continuing demand.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s Lonesome Creek Station, a natural gas-based peaking station west of Watford City, N.D., started commercial operation of Units 2 and 3 on Jan. 1 to help provide much-needed electrical stability in the Williston Basin.

Lonesome Creek Unit 1 started commercial operation December 2013. Each of the three units has 45 MW of power generation capacity, giving the station a total rating of 135 MW.

Basin Electric’s Pioneer Generation Station, a natural gas-fired peaking station northwest of Williston, ND, is also helping serve electrical needs in the Williston Basin. Pioneer Station Unit 1 started commercial operation in September 2013, Unit 2 started commercial operation in February 2014, and Unit 3 started commercial operation in March 2014. All three units have 45 MW of generation capacity.

The Basin Electric board of directors approved Phase III for both Lonesome Creek and Pioneer Generation Station in July 2014.

Phase III for Lonesome Creek will consist of the addition of two 45 MW combustion turbines. Phase III for Pioneer Station will consist of 112 MW of additional peaking capacity, provided by 12 9.3-MW natural gas-based reciprocating engines.

The oil play in the Bakken formation covers parts of western North Dakota and eastern Montana. Crude oil production in the North Dakota has quadrupled since 2007. As a result of the drilling and production activity and the associated support services and housing growth, electrical loads are growing rapidly. Basin Electric member cooperatives serve much of that load.

In 2009 Basin Electric and its member systems planned for 400 MW of load to develop in this area. Basin Electric is now planning for loads to grow an additional 1,200 MW by 2025.

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