Largest project in ND in 40 years
Basin Electric breaks ground on generation facility
WILLISTON – Nearly 100 cooperative members, employees, community members and dignitaries gathered Monday near Williston to break ground on Basin Electric’s largest single-site electric generation project to be built in North Dakota in 40 years.
Basin Electric is building about 580 megawatts of natural gas generation near the existing Pioneer Generation Station northwest of Williston. The project is referred to as Pioneer Generation Station Phase IV.
Basin Electric stated the natural gas-fueled, dispatchable generation facility is an important component of its all-of-the-above energy portfolio, which uses natural gas, coal, wind, recovered energy, fuel oil, market purchases, and soon solar, to serve its growing membership.
Todd Brickhouse, Basin Electric interim chief executive officer and general manager, said the five cooperatives that serve the Bakken region have invested more than $1.1 billion over the past decade to ensure reliable, affordable power in the region.
“Similarly, Basin Electric has invested just over $1.1 billion in the region over the last 15 years. If you look at what is being built here at Pioneer Generation Station today and include the major transmission infrastructure we are currently planning to build, Basin Electric will invest another $1.3 billion in the Bakken region in the next few years,” Brickhouse said.
Load forecasts show member cooperatives in the Bakken region will require more electricity by 2025. According to the 2023 Basin Electric Member Load Forecast, 92% of Basin Electric’s distribution cooperative members are growing. In western North Dakota and eastern Montana, that growth is due to economic development related to oil and gas and the ancillary services.
Construction began on the $800 million facility addition in March. More than 150 contract workers are on site, and there will be 250 workers on site during the peak of construction. When operational, the facility will have employees on-site 24-hours a day.
The project includes two simple-cycle combustion turbines, each capable of producing up to 235 MW, a series of reciprocating engines totaling about 110 MW, and 15 miles of 345-kilovolt transmission, all to be in service by 2026.
Gavin McCollam, Basin Electric senior vice president and chief operating officer, said when this project is complete, the entire Pioneer Generation Station site, with more than 800-MW of dispatchable generation, will be the largest natural gas-based plant in a radius that is bounded by Milwaukee to the east, Denver to the south, Salt Lake City to the southwest and the Pacific Ocean to the west.