Basin Electric begins preliminary investigation into construction of new generating facility

Dispatchable generation is critical to keeping electricity reliable; facilities with the ability to turn on when electricity is needed and ramp up or down to meet the needs of electricity users help maintain the integrity of the transmission grid.

Because of member load growth in western North Dakota, a Basin Electric team will begin to investigate building a generating facility. The team is looking at the potential of an additional natural gas-fueled power plant to be located within the Southwest Power Pool footprint in western North Dakota – to be completed close to the year 2030.

Matt Ehrman, Basin Electric vice president of Engineering and Construction, said because a lead time of several years is required for environmental permitting, equipment purchases, and more, investigation now is important.

“It’s important to note we may eventually determine that building our own facility isn’t warranted, but we know we need to begin now to get all of these steps done. We need project development and details defined enough to provide detailed costs for the facilities to be able to evaluate the self-build option with all the other options that are available,” Ehrman said.

The location for a new facility would be based on several factors: it’s best to locate a generating facility near member load, in an area near reliable transmission and fuel supply, water availability, and area for potential carbon capture and storage in the future.

The team will spend about one year evaluating the addition of a facility to Basin Electric’s fleet. During the same time, Basin Electric's Power Supply Planning group is evaluating other options: purchased power agreements or facilities built by other entities, for example.

“Ultimately the least-cost resource to serve the growing load would be selected and teams would eventually move forward with that selected option,” Ehrman said.

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