A paving machine from Strata Corporation prepares to smooth out the concrete in another section of the taxiway at the Watford City Municipal Airport. (photo by Lance Jay Jr.)
Grid Operators Need to Share Concerns
Grid operators, industry leaders and consumers need to be willing to speak up about growing concerns about electric reliability, because the problem will only get worse if they don't.
That was the message from Julie Fedorchak, who chairs the ND Public Service Commission, in remarks this week to a Lignite Energy Council stakeholder meeting. The LEC was approved last year as an 11th stakeholder sector of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), giving the coal sector a voice on the MISO Advisory Committee (see article in July 31, 2020 newsletter). Fedorchak, who also serves as the current president of the Organization of MISO States, said it's important that the lignite industry have a voice in the process.
Click here to listen to Fedorchak's comments.
MISO is the primary electric market in the Upper Midwest where most of North Dakota's lignite-based plants sell their power. It also dispatches those generating facilities, deciding what power sources go on the grid and and in what order. Fedorchak said she's observed growing awareness among MISO participants of the threat to reliability as more intermittent sources are added and more baseload facilities are shut down.
Click here to listen to Fedorchak's comments.
Fedorchak said she's encouraged that MISO is now conducting a regional resource assessment to get a better handle on the types of electric generation assets that are available, and more importantly, any plans by operators to shut them down.
Click here to listen to Fedorchak's comments.
As was evident during the 2021 ND legislative session, utilities are often reluctant to defend the coal industry because of increasing pressure from the ESG movement, which actively discourages investment in fossil fuels. Fedorchak said it's essential that the electric industry and its consumers share their concerns to avoid potentially catastrophic blackouts in the future.
Click here to listen to Fedorchak's comments.
Just 15 years ago, coal supplied 76 percent of the electricity on the MISO grid. Today, that number is often 40 percent or less, and based on current plant retirement plans, MISO projects it will fall below 10 percent in the early 2030s. Click here to see MISO's real-time market display. Click here to see survey results from MISO's latest regional resource assessment.
Bank Investments Could Be Pulled
North Dakota joined 14 other states in sending a strongly-worded letter this week to the Biden administration, chastising Climate Envoy John Kerry and others for privately pressuring U.S. banks and financial institutions to refuse to lend to or invest in coal, oil and natural gas companies.
"As a collective, we strongly oppose command-and-control economic policies that attempt to bend the free market to the political will of government officials," said the letter, which was signed by ND State Treasurer Thomas Beadle. "It is simply antithetical to our nation’s position as a democracy and a capitalist economy for the Executive Branch to bully corporations into curtailing legal activities."
Kerry has been meeting with the banking industry in an effort to promote investment in "green energy" to support Biden's fanciful goal of decarbonizing the US economy, despite the fact that 80 percent of the energy consumed today comes from hydrocarbon fuels. At the same time, Kerry is pressuring banks to reject any investment in coal, oil or natural gas development projects. The Biden administration is also expected to attempt to require mandatory disclosure of "material climate risks" for publicly-listed companies, and is developing anti-fossil fuel environmental regulations.
The letter from the treasurers said energy-producing states "refuse to allow the federal government to pick our critical industries as losers, based purely on President Biden’s own radical political preferences and ideologies."
"The coal, oil, and natural gas industries in our states are vital to our nation’s economy," the letter said. "These industries provide jobs, health insurance, critical tax revenue, and quality of life to families across our country."
The treasurers' letter went on to note that the states intend to put banks and financial institutions on notice of their position, urging them not to give in to pressure from the Biden Administration to refuse to lend to or invest in coal, oil and natural gas companies. It suggested that the states would withdraw their investments from financial institutions that engage in tactics that are contrary to their economic interests.
Runway Expansion to be Finished Oct. 1
Concrete work has resumed this spring on a $24 million project that will lengthen the runway at Watford City Municipal Airport to better accommodate large aircraft associated with oilfield activity.
The project will replace the existing 4,400 foot runway with a new 5,800 foot runway. The longer runway also necessitated a minor realignment due to the slope of the landscape, according to airport manager Luke Taylor.
Grading work got underway on the project last year, and the two ends of the concrete runway were poured, Taylor said. He said the total length of the runway will be 6,550 feet in order to have clear runway protection zones on both ends.
The project was split over two years to minimize the time the airport had to be shut down. Taylor said it was closed on April 1 this year, and is scheduled to reopen upon completion of the project October 1. Funding for the work comes from the Watford City budget, the Federal Aviation Administration and the ND Aeronautics Commission.
There are 35 aircraft based at the airport, ranging from business jets to smaller, single-engine aircraft. The airport is also important to aerial applicators and regional healthcare systems. Click here to view a planning document for the project.
Info on Pending Williams County Applications
The Western Dakota Energy Association will host an informational meeting next month to give the public an opportunity to learn more about two pending applications for the disposal of TENORM waste in Williams County.
The meeting, which will have no formal program, is scheduled June 16 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at The ARC in Williston. Two companies -- Secure Energy and WISCO -- have submitted applications to the county for a conditional use permit to operate a landfill to dispose of TENORM (Technologically-Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material). The Williams County Planning and Zoning Commission will hold public hearings on the applications the following evening, June 17.
Both Secure and WISCO will have company representatives on hand at The ARC to explain their operational plans, as well as the safety and environmental measures they employ to protect the public. The Department of Environmental Quality will also be in attendance at the informational meeting to answer the public's questions about the solid waste permitting process, landfill construction and operation, and inspection and monitoring requirements.
Representatives from the Department of Mineral Resources and the ND Petroleum Council will also attend to share information about future drilling and production expectations, and the volume of TENORM likely to be generated as a result of industry processing operations. The low-level radioactive material in TENORM is found in nature, but is concentrated by industrial processes to a level that requires special handling and disposal. Most of the TENORM now produced in North Dakota is shipped to a landfill in Montana, but regulatory changes there have increased the urgency of finding an in-state disposal solution.
WDEA, along with the Vision West ND Consortium, will also have representatives at the June 16 meeting to answer questions, including details of a study prepared for WDEA about TENORM disposal options (see article in July 24, 2020 newsletter).
Rate to Remain the Same Thru 2023
Dickinson State University’s commitment to providing affordable and accessible education was reinforced during the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education (SBHE) meeting yesterday.
The SBHE approved DSU's plan to freeze tuition and fees for two years, guaranteeing that the cost of tuition and fees established in the 2020-2021 academic year will not change through Summer 2023.
The decision will lock in educational costs for new and returning resident and non-resident students in an effort to help them and their families better afford higher education in the midst of rising educational costs across the country.
"We are proud to lead the way in holding our tuition rate steady for the next two years," said DSU President Steve Easton. "Our goal is do what we can to ease that strain and to encourage those who might benefit from the Dickinson State University experience."
Freezing tuition and fees will allow the university to better serve the region by recruiting and retaining individuals, and will support strategic enrollment management goals at DSU aimed at increasing headcount, fulltime enrollment, and credit production.
Click here for more information.
CEOs to Discuss Untapped Labor Pools
Workforce availability is a growing concern among North Dakota businesses, and identifying new ways to attract workers will be the subject of a CEO Roundtable next month organized by the Greater ND Chamber of Commerce.
The CEO Roundtable scheduled for June 23 will focus on new labor pools, ones that aren’t traditionally used in attraction and recruitment strategies. GNDC is encouraging business leaders and decision-makers to attend to learn about current best practices or discover potential solutions that can be altered to fit ongoing situations.
The gathering to be held at the ND Heritage Center will be the first in-person CEO Roundtable to be held since prior to the onset of the pandemic. There will not be a virtual option for the event. GNDC will take COVID-19 precautions and is asking individuals to engage in ways that make them feel safe. Presentations will occur in the auditorium with a capacity of 200 people, and lunch will offer social distanced options. Masks will not be discouraged.
Click here for more information.
Lyft Available for Impaired Drivers
North Dakota Sober Ride will be offering Lyft codes May 29 through May 31 to help keep impaired drivers off state roads during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Use Lyft code “VZMemorial1” to get $10 off a Lyft ride for Memorial Day weekend. Codes are available while supplies last. Program funding for the Memorial Day weekend codes is sponsored by AAA – The Auto Club Group.
Companies interested in contributing can sponsor ND Sober Ride by contacting NDDOT Safety Public Information Program Manager Lauren Bjork.
ND Sober Ride will expand to include smaller communities by using taxis or other transportation services in the future. Lyft codes are unique to each holiday or event and a user may only use a code once per time period. Codes can be found on the Vision Zero website.
This campaign is part of the Vision Zero strategy to eliminate motor vehicle crash fatalities and serious injuries on North Dakota roads.
Applications Now Being Accepted
The Fort Berthold Indian Reservation Scholarship Fund was established last year by local businesses and individuals to support graduating high school seniors living within the boundaries of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.
The FBIR Scholarship Fund has a goal of awarding multiple annual scholarships of $1,000 each.
Fund supporters announced this week that they are now taking applications for the program. Applications must be completed online by June 20. Scholarships can be used for any formalized continuing education after high school.
Click here to view the available scholarships and all the requirements for the FBIR Scholarship Fund.
Click here to submit an application.
Vision West Endowment Taking Applications
Applications for the next round of grants from the Vision West ND Foundation are now being accepted.
The Foundation Committee has made $8,000 available to fund community or organization projects. In the last round, grant awards ranged from $1,000 to $1,500. The deadline for submission is June 30.
The Vision West ND Foundation created the grant program to support the activities of the areas served by the consortium. There are two funds:
- A project-oriented non-endowed account established so funds can be easily accessed for projects and operations.
- A sustaining endowment established to use the interest earned to serve communities over the long term.
The mission is to award grants that contribute to the well-being of the communities within the Vision West ND region. All consortium members in good standing are eligible to apply.
Click here to view the community grants process and the grant criteria.
Event to Recognize "Learning Reimagined"
The fifth annual Governor's Summit on Innovative Education, aimed at inspiring innovation and reimagining learning in schools across North Dakota, will be held June 7 at the Bismarck Event Center.
The summit will be followed June 8-11 with what is being billed as Ignite ND, a four-day program that offers educators an opportunity to discover creative solutions, network with experts from the field and "light a spark for future transformation."
This year’s summit will include an emphasis on computer science in K-12 classrooms, and a focus on accelerating learning as the education system recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The June 7 summit is free to attend. Click here to see the agenda or to register.
IgniteND, to be held at Bismarck State College is part of a cooperative effort focused on innovative education and inspiring a love of life-long learning. It represents a professional development opportunity featuring numerous hands-on workshops for educators. Registration is $99.00 for the four days, and the fee covers all meals, lodging in campus dorms (if requested) and evening opportunities.
NDPC Partnering with Univ of Mary on Effort
The ND Petroleum Council is partnering with the University of Mary Workforce Development Department and Envision Partners to launch a Leadership and Management Certification Program.
The program provides rising and current leaders with a professional development experience. All nine courses in the program are complemented by executive coaching sessions for those choosing to complete the entire series. The classes will be delivered through distance learning via the Zoom platform. The University of Mary will award participants with a Leadership and Management Plaque upon successful completion of all courses. Participants can also pick and choose courses and take them a la carte.
The first class focuses on Environmental, Social & Governance Training, a hot topic for the fossil fuel industry, which is threatened by the inexplicable lack of investment in an essential resource. The second class involves the transition from peer to manager. Many companies want to reward their "rock star" employees through internal promotion, but there are pitfalls which the class will explore.
2021 Class Topics & Dates (all times CDT)
- ESG – June 2, 16: 1- 5 pm (2-day training)
- Peer to Manager – June 15 or June 17: 1 -5 pm (4-hour training)
- Engaging Leader – June 23, 30, July 7, 14: 1– 5 pm (2-day training)
- Conflict Management – Aug 17 or 19: 1 – 5 pm (4-hour training)
- Emerging Leader – Sept 1, 8, 15, 22: 1 – 5 pm (2-day training)
- Delegation – Sept 28 or 30: 1 – 5 pm (4-hour training)
- Strategic Leader – Oct 6, 13, 20, 27: 1 – 5 pm (2-day training)
- Inclusion & Diversity – Nov 9, 23, 30, Dec 7: 1 – 5 pm (2-day training)
- Effective Workplace Communication – Dec 14 or 16: 1 – 5 pm
For more information including cost of registration, click here.
- Judge will not let ND intervene in Dakota Access dispute -- Bismarck Tribune
- ND Congressional delegation reacts to pipeline ruling -- Williston Herald
- Momentum builds to expand Bakken Restart model nationwide -- Williston Herald
- Soybeans and 'green diesel' will combine through two ND plants -- Fargo Forum
- Bakken looking to grow oil reserves on EOR, improved technology -- NGI
- Oasis to offer $400 million in senior notes to finance QEP purchase -- Williston Herald
- Oasis is selling Permian assets for half what it paid in 2017 -- Williston Herald
- DAPL supporters/detractors will wait until 2022 for answers on key permit -- KFYR-TV
- Creedence Energy Services testing for more eco-friendly well production -- KXMB-TV
- Liberty looks to transform as activity in North American shale picks up -- Williston Herald
- MDU gas customers to see higher rates for 16 mths due to Feb. price spike -- Bismarck Tribune
- Redistricting session could be earlier than expected -- Prairie Public Radio
- North Dakota Ethics Commission advances $10 food/drink limit -- Bismarck Tribune
- Ethics Commission future workload uncertain, yet to hear a single case -- Bismarck Tribune
- Grassroots committee forming to protect North Dakota's constitution -- Williston Herald
- Top North Dakota investment official resigns for Alabama position -- Bismarck Tribune
- Port: State Investment Board may limit members' interactions with the press -- Dickinson Press
- Electronic land posting available for North Dakota landowners -- Bismarck Tribune
- Throwback Shirt Guy gives back to his Belfield High alma mater -- KFYR-TV
- McKenzie County provides school districts with $5 million -- McKenzie County Farmer
- ND asked to comment on how DPI should use federal aid -- KXMB-TV
- North Dakota’s economic outlook improves as COVID-19 wanes -- Associated Press
- Gasoline prices on the rise, impacting summer travel -- KFYR-TV
- Possible future road projects for Beulah area, 4-lane Hwy 49 -- Beulah Beacon
- City hires architect to explore community center expansion -- Tioga Tribune
- Days of rain have been a ‘godsend’ for parched area -- The Journal
- Minot City Council re-examine economic development strategies -- Minot Daily News
- Williams, McKenzie and Divide counties all lag in vaccine numbers -- Williston Herald
- Three county cowboys to be inducted into Hall of Fame -- McKenzie County Farmer
- Williston Basin API annual golf tournament is on for July 8, 9 -- Williston Herald
- Milloy reads riot act to ExxonMobil management on climate -- JunkScience.com
- IEA says feasibility of Biden's energy transition is questionable -- IER
- Experts to Biden: You can't go green without getting serious about mining -- Inside Sources
- Biden administration defends Trump-era Alaska oil decision -- Associated Press
- Biden turns back on energy workers, wants to empower states to block pipelines -- The Hill
- Economics improving in shale basins but operators hold steady -- S&P Global
- Colonial hackers' secret weapon: Self-promoting cybersecurity firms -- ProPublica
- After Colonial Pipeline hack, US will impose cyberattack reporting regs -- Wall Street Journal
- Cabot and Cimarex high-profile merger creates a new $17B shale giant -- OilPrice.com
- Responding to Senators, Glick agrees FERC not stall on gas projects -- S&P Global
- OPEC will force overproducing members to comply and compensate -- OilPrice.com
- Time to take a fresh look at neglected coal and nuclear power -- Inside Sources
- NERC: Summer energy shortfalls? Transition may threaten reliability -- Utility Dive
- Utilities’ spending on electric distribution systems continue to increase -- EIA
- Pew Poll: Two-thirds of Americans don't want to phase out fossil fuels -- Energy in Depth
- America needs more oil and gas pipelines to keep fuel affordable -- Dallas Morning News
Factoid of the Week
Source: ND Legislative Council
Virtual and In-Person
Bismarck State College
Eagle Ridge Golf Course and The Links of ND
May 28, 2021
WTI Crude: $66.32
Brent Crude: $69.63
Natural Gas: $2.99
North Dakota Active Oil Rigs: 22 (Up 2) 5/28/2020 -- 11 rigs