New transmission line will serve Bakken electrical demand

By The Bakken Magazine Staff | November 12, 2014

An electric transmission line project intended to provide reliability and stability in the Williston Basin is set to begin construction after receiving final approval from two federal agencies.

Karl Aaker, engineering manager at McKenzie Electric Cooperative in Watford City, North Dakota said the Basin Electric Power Cooperative transmission line is vital to the region’s rural electric cooperatives, which supply electricity to the growing industrial, commercial and residential demand resulting from oil and gas production in the Bakken.

“It’s going to be our stiff backbone for supporting the base loads that we keep growing on our system,” he explained. “It’s everything from the continued growth of oil wells, gas plants, oil processing and even the commercial development and residential development in some of the cities in the area, such as Watford City.”

Basin Electric will build a 200-mile, 345-kilovolt transmission line from its Antelope Valley Station north of Beulah to Tioga. The line is expected to be in service by 2017.

In separate decisions, the U.S. Forest Service and the Rural Utilities Service gave the go-ahead to the Bismarck-based cooperative. Although approval is still needed from the Western Area Power Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Basin Electric said the project can start construction in areas outside the two agencies’ areas of authority.

“The approval of this line is a significant step forward in serving the tremendous growth in the Williston Basin and beyond,” said Paul Sukut, Basin Electric CEO and general manager. “This transmission project, coupled with our current and upcoming generation projects in the area, will help strengthen the grid, facilitate the delivery of electricity and bring reliability and voltage support to the area.”

Forecasts by Basin Electric and its member cooperatives in the Williston Basin region predict that an additional 1,800 megawatts of generation capacity will be needed by 2035 to serve growing electrical needs. In response, Basin Electric is also expanding two of its natural gas-based peaking stations in the region.

“It supports some base load, but it also helps with reliability in the event that any of the transmission lines coming into this area are taken out of service for maintenance or there’s some kind of outage,” Aaker said. “That generation in this area will keep our reliability high and keep the power on to supply power to the increasing growth.”