A view from the Werner weather station of a thunderstorm that dropped heavy rain and hail over the Hazen area Monday afternoon. See more photos at wiseroadsnd.com or ndawn.info.
Utility to Rely on More Gas, Wind and Solar
Otter Tail Power Company has indicated its intention to withdraw from its 35 percent ownership interest in Coyote Station in its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) filed with regulatory commissions in each of the three states it serves.
In a news release this week, the company said it spent two years analyzing market data, engaging with people in its service area, and consulting with regulatory commissions to develop the plan.
"In almost every scenario and permutation analyzed, the results are clear: It is no longer in customers’ best interest for Otter Tail to continue to participate as an owner in Coyote Station," the IRP says. "This outcome is true regardless of any future compliance obligation or potential change in law. Should significant investments need to be made at Coyote Station for environmental compliance purposes, the economic analysis is even more compelling."
Significant investments may be required at Coyote, which is located two miles south of Beulah. A 2019 report prepared for Northern Municipal Power Agency, one of the plant's other owners, indicated at least three improvements would be required based on the plant's 10-year capital plan. Proposed future items to be addressed included a cooling tower rebuild, underground piping condition assessment, and Regional Haze Phase 2 compliance. The report indicates the first two items pale in comparison to the compliance issue.
"The Coyote Station owners are taking a hard look at this (Regional Haze) rule and its potential impacts on the operation of the plant," the report says. "The prolonged future of the plant could hang in the balance if a cost-effective solution cannot be found to meet the requirements of this rule."
Otter Tail, which is the operator of the plant, plans to withdraw its ownership interest in 2028, but continue running it during the interim. Its preferred plan to replace the power includes adding dual fuel capability at its Astoria Station, allowing it to also use fuel oil at the natural gas-fired plant in South Dakota. The investment in on-site fuel oil storage assures the plant's availability in the event of a disruption in gas supply. The plan also calls for adding a 100 MW wind facility and 150 megawatts of solar.
The company indicated that it will continue to analyze market conditions, and is prepared to modify the plan if a change is justified. Company President Tim Rogelstad said Otter Tail will continue to monitor issues that could impact its plan, including changes to the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s (MISO) capacity construct, evolving energy markets, and current or future federal or state energy laws or regulations including the federal Regional Haze Rule.
According to the company's news release, Otter Tail Power Company customers will receive approximately 35% of their energy from renewable resources by 2023. Assuming the current dispatch levels of co-owned units Coyote Station and Big Stone Plant remain as they are today, the company’s target is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from generation resources it owns approximately 50% from 2005 levels by 2025 and 97% by 2050.
In addition to Otter Tail's 35% ownership interest, other utility owners include Northern Municipal Power Agency with 30%; Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. with 25%; and NorthWestern Energy owns 10%.
Otter Tail management is sensitive to the impact on workers at Coyote and the adjacent Coyote Creek mine that supplies lignite to the plant. Company executives met with employees this week to explain the plan. The difficulty is also described in the IRP.
"Coyote Station is a key source of union jobs and tax base in Mercer County and North Dakota,' the plan notes. "Consequently, in addition to considering customer impact we must also consider the impacts to our Coyote Station co-owners and these other stakeholders. While these challenges are not insurmountable, they will require thoughtful consideration and management."
Click here to download Otter Tail's Integrated Resource Plan 2022-2036. Click here to read analysis of the OTP plan from Rob Port in the Fargo Forum. Click here to read the Minneapolis Star Tribune's coverage of the story.
"Critical 24/7 Energy Generation Source"
In its Integrated Resource Plan announcing its intention to withdraw from partial ownership of Coyote Station, Otter Tail Power Company acknowledged that Coyote "is a key baseload resource for the plant’s co-owners." That fact was reinforced by a statement issued this week by Northwestern Energy, which owns a 10% share of the plant.
Coyote "is an important energy resource for NorthWestern Energy’s 63,900 South Dakota customers," the company noted.
"The Coyote Generating Station remains a critical 24/7 on-demand generation energy source, reliable when demand is high, such as the extreme winter weather in February 2021 that required rolling blackouts to keep the grid stable and during the extreme heat experienced this summer," the company said. "NorthWestern's ongoing analysis indicates the Coyote Station will continue to provide economic and reliable energy for our customers well into the future absent any new state or federal regulatory requirements or significant increases in operating costs."
NorthWestern Energy’s South Dakota Energy Resource Procurement Plan will be submitted to the SD Public Utilities Commission in late 2022. The company indicated the long-term value of Coyote will be addressed in the plan.
Click here for more information about Northwestern Energy.
Two Wind Turbines Were Slated for Parcel
Marathon Petroleum Corporation has withdrawn its application to rezone a 39-acre parcel of land it owns adjacent to its refinery west of Dickinson. The company submitted a letter to Stark County following a unanimous vote yesterday by the county's Planning and Zoning Commission recommending that the rezoning request be denied.
MPC had hoped to rezone the land from agriculture to industrial zoning. That would have allowed it to place two wind turbines on the site, in addition to three others planned for another portion of MPC property already zoned for industrial purposes, all of which would be contingent on approval of its conditional use permit (CUP) application. Although the company is withdrawing the rezoning request, Stark County Zoning Administrator Steve Josephson said the letter did not indicate if MPC also intends to withdraw its CUP application, or possibly amend it to downsize the project.
A fact sheet produced by MPC indicates the project would represent a $24 million investment in the county, and that it is expected to pay $940,000 in local taxes over the life of the project. In addition, One Energy, the company that will install and operate the turbines for MPC, had offered five $5,000 ‘Megawatt Scholarships’ to local high school graduates for every year the turbines are operating. The refinery itself currently generates $2.1 million in annual property taxes, and pays $19 million annually in wages and benefits to its employees.
Several area residents and neighboring landowners testified at yesterday's hearing in opposition to the rezoning request. They sited concerns about existing emissions from the refinery, potential noise from the wind turbines and impacts to wildlife habitat and wetlands adjacent to the property.
Their concerns were backed up in part by a letter from Greg Link, Chief of the Conservation & Communications Division for the ND Game and Fish Department. Link's letter noted that the wind turbines would be placed in an area already disturbed by industry, but there were other potential impacts to be considered. His letter noted that the project falls within both the state Wildlife Action Plan's priority areas, and the High Impact to Native Wildlife and Habitat Area in Game and Fish's Best Management Practices for Wind Energy Development.
"This is due to the high concentration of woodland and wetlands habitat in the area," Link wrote. "The project is encircled by the Heart River and impacts to species that depend on the river and associated woodlands may be negatively impacted by the development of turbines, specifically species of conservation priorities such as the little brown bat."
Consideration of the project was complicated by the county’s recent enactment of a moratorium on wind farms, which was subsequently rescinded after Stark County State’s Attorney Amanda Engelstad issued a letter in which she stated that the moratorium was not properly enacted. The county commission may consider enactment of a similar "development moratorium" when it meets next week.
Document Will Guide Grant/Loan Decisions
The non-voting technical committee of the state's new Clean Sustainable Energy Authority (CSEA) endorsed a guidance document this week that outlines the procedure for the authority when considering applications for grants or loans for cutting-edge energy projects.
The 12-page document, which will require final approval from the ND Industrial Commission, has been posted on the NDIC website for public comment. Its development was guided by former ND Commerce Commissioner Al Anderson, who was asked to help get the CSEA (pronounced see-see) off and running.
Click here to listen to Anderson's comments.
Anderson said he worked closely with staff from the Industrial Commission, the Bank of North Dakota and other members of the CSEA Technical Committee. He said the guidelines incorporate much of the language in HB 1452, the bill enacted by the 2021 Legislature that created the authority. Anderson said the group also modeled parts of the guidance after the state's Innovation Technology Loan Fund, commonly referred to as the LIFT program, as well as the governing principles of the state Renewable Energy Council.
Much of the committee's time was spent discussing how financial requests should be considered, the type of business planning information that would be required, matching requirements and whether projects should receive a grant, a loan or both. For the 2021-2023 biennium, the CSEA program received an appropriation of $25 million for grants, and the authority to request a line of credit from the Bank of North Dakota for up to $250 million.
Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms, who serves as one of the technical advisors, said whether to provide a grant or loan would depend on the status of the energy project.
"We would expect grant applications for pilot demonstrations, loan applications for commercial deployments, but both for commercial demonstrations," Helms said.
The CSEA has proposed an aggressive timeline for the consideration of the first round of grant and loan applications. The guidance document will be considered by the Industrial Commission at its September 27 meeting. Applications to CSEA would be due by November 1. They would be reviewed by the technical committee later that month, considered for recommendation by CSEA in early December, and go in front of the NDIC for approval at its December 20 meeting.
The purpose of the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority is to support research, development and technological advancements through partnerships and financial support for the large scale development and commercialization of projects, processes, activities and technologies that reduce environmental impacts and increase sustainability of energy production and delivery.
Sponsorships Available for Williston Event
Registration is now open for the Western Dakota Energy Association's annual meeting to be held October 13-14 at The ARC in Williston. Sponsorships and exhibit space are also available.
The in-person event will get underway at 1:00 Wednesday afternoon, and will begin with Lynn Helms, one of the event's favorite speakers. Helms, the director of the Department of Mineral Resources, will deliver his traditional county-by-county production forecast report at 1:15, following opening remarks by WDEA President Shannon Holter and a welcome message from Williams County Commission Chairman Steve Kemp.
The opening day will also feature presentations about the emerging hydrogen economy, updates regarding LoadPass Permits and the Wise Roads project, a panel discussion of transportation and truck permitting issues, and a status report on North Dakota's impending solutions to dispose of TENORM (technologically-enhanced, naturally-occurring radioactive material). Attendees of the evening social will be entertained by singer/songwriter Alma Cook, and hear an update on efforts to four-lane portions of Highway 85 from Cal Klewin, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway Association.
Day Two features a keynote address from Lt. Governor Brent Sanford during the noon luncheon. The day kicks off with a welcome message from Williston Mayor Howard Klug. The morning agenda includes presentations about a new national shale energy organization, coming changes in evolving electric markets, opportunities created by energy legislation passed in 2021, a report on development of the Bakken Area Skills Center, a panel discussion on education funding and other school-related issues, remarks from Williston State College President Bernell Hirning, and a report on interim legislative activity from Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner.
The wrap-up Thursday afternoon includes a review of oil and natural gas takeaway capacity from ND Pipeline Authority Director Justin Kringstad, a report on the pending sale of Coal Creek Station, and concludes with election of the WDEA Executive Committee. Board members up for election who are eligible to serve an additional three-year term include Bowman Mayor Lyn James, Williams County Commissioner David Montgomery, Washburn Superintendent Brad Rinas who represents the Coal Conversion Counties, and a new member will be chosen to represent education members to replace Dickinson Superintendent Shon Hocker, who resigned after accepting a position in Idaho.
Gatherings in Back-to-Back Weeks in September
Registration is open for the annual fall meetings of the ND Petroleum Council and the Lignite Energy Council.
NDPC members will meet at the Rough Rider Center in Watford City September 21-23, and LEC members will gather the following week, September 29-30 at the Bismarck Event Center.
Among the featured speakers at the NDPC meeting will be former Interior Secretary and Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke. Attendees will also hear remarks from Oasis Petroleum CEO Daniel Brown and MHA Nation Chairman Mark Fox.
Speakers have not been announced for the LEC meeting, but it will feature its traditional mine and plant updates, awards luncheon and CoalPAC breakfast.
Number Six in Primary Production
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced this week that North Dakota ranks sixth among the top primary energy-producing states based on data collected in 2019.
The EIA defines primary energy as "the form that is first accounted for in a statistical energy balance, before any transformation to secondary or tertiary forms of energy." North Dakota has long been a top producer of energy commodities including coal, crude oil and natural gas. Read the State Energy Data System report here.
The EIA notes that the top primary energy-producing states - Texas, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Oklahoma, West Virginia and North Dakota - accounted for 55% of all primary energy produced in the U.S. in 2019. The number is up from 20 years earlier when the same six states accounted for 39% of primary energy in 2000.
Overall primary energy production grew 40% between 2009 and 2019. Much of the increase in production can be attributed to the innovative strides made in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling during that time period. Those strides led to the Bakken Boom and skyrocketed North Dakota to the second-highest crude oil-producing state - accounting for 12% of U.S. oil production - up from just 3% in 2009. The advancements in crude oil and natural gas, coupled with North Dakota's booming lignite industry, more than quadrupled North Dakota's primary energy production over the last 10 years.
From the growing hospitality industries in cities like Williston and Watford City to vital infrastructure development to the Legacy Fund, the growth of the petroleum industry in North Dakota has positively impacted North Dakota communities. A study of oil tax revenue distribution released by the Western Dakota Energy Association and the ND Petroleum Council in March 2021 shows the widespread impact of the industry across the state. Read the WDEA/NDPC study here.
Between 2008 and 2020, the oil and gas industry contributed more than $22 billion in extraction and production tax revenues in North Dakota, accounting for 45-to-50% of all taxes collected. The tax revenue has been used across the state, adding $1.3 billion for water projects, over $8.2 billion for community and infrastructure projects, and $6 billion to the state Legacy Fund.
Fox, Glatt to Offer Local Govt. Perspective
EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced the appointment of 34 new members to the agency's Local Government Advisory Committee, including Mark Fox, chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation in North Dakota.
“It is a pleasure and an honor to serve on the EPA LGAC Board,” said Fox.“I look forward to the continuance of strengthening environmental protection throughout our local governments through all of the things the EPA supports.”
Regan also appointed 16 new members to the LGAC’s Small Communities Advisory Subcommittee including ND Department of Environmental Quality Director Dave Glatt, who was nominated for the appointment by Senator Kevin Cramer.
“North Dakotans are the experts at how to protect the environment without limiting American innovation or production,” said Cramer. “Dave is well-suited to provide a comprehensive perspective on behalf of our state. I thank Administrator Regan for giving North Dakotans a seat at the table.”
The LGAC provides independent policy advice to the EPA Administrator on a wide range of environmental issues affecting local governments. The subcommittee on which Glatt will serve was established in 1996 to advise the EPA administrator on environmental issues of concern to the residents of smaller communities.
ND Native to Oversee Fossil Fuels
The Biden administration announced its intent this week to nominate North Dakota native Brad Crabtree for the post of Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management in the Department of Energy.
Crabtree, originally from Ashley, ND, currently serves as Vice President for Carbon Management at the Great Plains Institute (GPI) and director of the Carbon Capture Coalition based in Washington.
In a written statement from GPI, Crabtree said, “It is the honor of my life to be nominated by Joe Biden for the position of assistant secretary of fossil energy and carbon management. The President and Secretary Granholm have committed to an ambitious portfolio of carbon management policies and programs in the American Jobs Plan to meet our climate obligations, create high-wage energy, industry and manufacturing jobs, and provide environmental and other benefits to communities."
Read GPI's full statement here.
Crabtree's background includes launching the State Carbon Capture Work Group deploying carbon capture and transport infrastructure in 16 states, establishing the Industrial Innovation Initiative with the World Resource Institute, and coordinating energy policy advisory groups for the Midwestern Governors Association. He is a graduate of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and holds an MA in history from Johns Hopkins University.
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm praised Crabtree's nomination saying, "As one of the nation’s top practitioners on carbon capture and storage and carbon utilization, Brad’s expertise will help us meet this urgent challenge and make huge progress toward our net-zero goals while creating good-paying jobs and supporting energy communities in transition." Read Granholm's full statement.
State energy leaders have reached out to Crabtree, hoping to create a positive relationship with DOE that fosters realistic policies conducive to North Dakota's energy production.
Jason Bohrer, President and CEO of the Lignite Energy Council, sent a letter congratulating Crabtree on his nomination stating, "We consider it a unique opportunity to have a native son of North Dakota to be selected for your position as assistant secretary for fossil energy and carbon management. As you know, Team North Dakota (the utilities, the mining companies, the legislature and the Energy & Environmental Research Center) has spent time, money and resources to find a cost-effective solution to capturing CO2 within the state."
Low Level to Affect Downstream Users
The US Army Corps of Engineers plans to begin reducing releases from the Garrison Dam due to ongoing widespread drought conditions throughout the Upper Midwest.
The Corps' current weekly update indicates Upper Missouri River Basin runoff was just 54% of normal in the month of August. The calendar year forecast is not much better, forecasting runoff at 14.7 million acre feet, or 57% of the normal 25.8 MAF.
Downstream users are urged to be aware that the reduction in releases will likely mean many boat ramps will become unusable, and some launch points on the river may no longer be accessible. Owners of boats, recreational vehicles or docks in the river are cautioned to monitor conditions and remove property before flow reductions restrict access.
Garrison releases will decrease from 21,000 cubic feet per second to 18,000 cfs by September 12, then to 16,000 cfs by September 16, and will drop to 13,000 cfs at a date to be determined later in September.
Click here to see the Corps' latest weekly update.
- PSC approves transfer of Coal Creek permits for water, power line -- Prairie Public
- Minnesota court deals yet another setback to pipeline foes -- Bismarck Tribune
- Japanese delegation touring ND talking hydrogen, CO2 capture -- Williston Herald
- Troopers arrest 69 pipeline protesters at MN Gov Walz’s residence -- KFYR-TV
- Oregon denies oil terminal permit that is needed to fully operate -- Bismarck Tribune
- Enerplus refines its assets with sale of "non-strategic" acres in the Bakken -- Williston Herald
- North Dakota reports more than 500 new COVID-19 cases -- Fargo Forum
- Biden approves disaster declaration for June storm damage in North Dakota -- KFYR
- ND drought sees improvement; state agencies urge weekend fire safety -- Bismarck Tribune
- Williston API opens nominations for awards in oil and gas sector -- Williston Herald
- Trinity Health to gain efficiencies with new facility under construction -- Minot Daily News
- Tioga could become the area's mental health ‘hub’ -- Tioga Tribune
- Williston Basin School Board votes against mask mandates in special meeting -- KFYR
- Watford City’s school enrollment grows, up 125 students this year -- McKenzie County Farmer
- Enrollment figures in northwestern ND schools are encouraging -- Crosby Journal
- Washburn students back better than ever on their first day of school -- The Leader-News
- Former school technology chief accused of illegally copying district data -- Williston Herald
- BLM announces a slow-walk process for cancelled lease sales -- Williston Herald
- Automakers are spending billions on electric vehicle recalls -- Institute for Energy Research
- US taps into reserve oil to feed refineries after Hurricane Ida -- The Hill
- Is climate change worsening hurricanes? The evidence says no. -- Heartland Institute
- Hurricane or hype? Really, really bad weather is not climate change -- Institute for Energy Research
- California turns to natural gas to address grid reliability issues -- Energy in Depth
- Your utility should expect the unexpected because it's on the way -- Inside Sources
Factoid of the Week
via Microsoft Teams
Bismarck Event Center
via Microsoft Teams
Bismarck Event Center
Bismarck Event Center
The ARC - Williston
Bismarck Event Center
Ramkota Hotel - Bismarck
September 3, 2021
WTI Crude: $69.29
Brent Crude: $72.61
Natural Gas: $4.71
North Dakota Active Oil Rigs: 28 (Up 3) 9/3/2020 -- 9 rigs