Brickhouse addresses investment at Williston Basin Petroleum Conference

people on stage
Participants in a panel discussion titled “The Future of Energy Supply — Available, Reliable, Affordable?” at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference held in Bismarck, North Dakota, included, from left, Julie Fedorchak, North Dakota Public Service Commissioner; Todd Brickhouse, Basin Electric CEO and general manager; Nicole Kvisto, CEO of MDU Resources Group; and Pierce Norton, CEO of ONEOK.

Todd Brickhouse, Basin Electric CEO and general manager, participated in a panel discussion titled “The Future of Energy Supply — Available, Reliable, Affordable?” at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference held in Bismarck, North Dakota, on May 15.

The conference is focused on the Bakken, Three Forks, and Williston Basin. Other panelists included Nicole Kvisto, CEO of MDU Resources Group, and Pierce Norton, CEO of ONEOK.

The panel was chaired by Julie Fedorchak, North Dakota Public Service Commissioner and president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. She also serves on the advisory board for the Electric Power Research Institute and is the state’s liaison to the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) and former president of the Organization of MISO States (OMS).

“Being involved in MISO has made me concerned about the policy direction that things are going,” Fedorchak said. “There’s no excuse in the United States that anyone should run short of power, especially electricity. But two-thirds of the population is at risk of not having enough supply of electricity to meet demand under certain conditions. … This comes from NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corporation), a subsidiary of FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), which evaluates the reliability of the United States electric grid.”

Fedorchak said the potential energy shortfall is due to regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency and states’ plans to shut down resources like coal-based power plants to move toward decarbonization.

Brickhouse cited a Wall Street Journal article from Nov. 13, 2023, that showed from 2013-2022, electric consumption in North Dakota increased by 60%, and the next four states behind North Dakota grew by 20% over the decade.

“I think the media has done a public service over the last six months, referencing what Julie [Fedorchak] was talking about earlier. The United States is growing rapidly in electric consumption over the last decade, and that is a trend that didn’t happen since the turn of the century, it’s a new trend,” Brickhouse said. “It’s rare that the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post have been on the same side of a story.”

Brickhouse said the energy and technology industries are on a collision course, with electrons being the raw materials for the products of the technology industry. “When you think to the year 2000, Google was two or three years old, Microsoft was selling their products to us on CDs, and Amazon was just selling books, Facebook didn’t even exist. Now their entire business model is concentrated on cloud computing,” he said. “Their loads are not 5, 10, 15 megawatts. When they come to a service territory, they are looking for 500-1,000 megawatts, possibly more. It is a dramatic acceleration we are expecting in the growth of the utility industry.”

Basin Electric is investing to meet this growth. The cooperative’s capital expenditure program for the next five years will be more than $4 billion, with the majority going into the construction of new generation and transmission.

Brickhouse said Basin Electric is building Pioneer Generation Station Phase IV near Williston, North Dakota, which will provide another 580 megawatts. He also said the cooperative is investigating the addition of another facility in North Dakota, which is planned to provide more than 1,000 megawatts.

Basin Electric also has four large transmission projects underway: Roundup-to-Kummer Ridge is under construction now and will be complete in late 2024 or early 2025; Leland Olds Station-to-Tande, and Tande- and Wheelock-to-Saskatchewan are planned to be complete in 2026 and 2027, respectively.

Related Videos