Power Demands

By The Bakken magazine staff | May 24, 2013

By 2017, electricity demand in North Dakota will increase by 88 percent, according to the N.D. Industrial Commission, in each electricity category: industrial, commercial and residential. The enormous jump in power usage stems from oil and gas production and the need for power in the industrial sector, including the addition of new wells, building and operating the infrastructure necessary to support production of pipelines, water treatment facilities, gas processing plants and refineries. In 2012, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that sales of electricity in both the commercial and industrial sector accounted for 35 percent of total sales, with the remaining 30 percent used by residential customers. The rise in industrial electricity has, however, created an increase in both the commercial and residential categories.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative has already applied for a new transmission line with the N.D. Public Service Commission. The 345-kilovolt line would stretch for 200 miles from the company’s Antelope Valley Station near Beulah, N.D., to substations in the N.D. communities of Grassy Butte, Williston and Tioga. The company says the state’s current system is reaching its limits.

A 2012 study by Bismarck-based Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson Inc. titled, “Williston Basin Oil and Gas Related Electrical Load Growth Forecast,” revealed the power needs of the oil and gas industry. Monthly meter data of oilfield-related electric loads showed an average usage of 22 kW per oilfield site, the report said. Most well sites are run by onsite generators during drilling and completion phases, but during long-term production, each site is connected to an electrical grid.

The increase in electricity demand doesn’t just highlight what the state needs. According to the U.S. EIA, between 2007 and 2011, the increase in electricity coincided with a 41 percent increase in the state’s gross domestic product.