Kevin Cramer: North Dakota Has A Looming Power Shortage Problem

Yesterday I wrote about a Public Service Commissioner from Montana warning that the Bakken region could face “brownouts” (basically shortages in power availability) by 2015 due to regulatory holdups plaguing power infrastructure projects.

That Montana official, Travis Kavulla, was talking about, among other things, transmission lines (specifically the Basin Electric lines which would run through the Killdeer Mountain area). I noted that one of his North Dakota counterparts, Public Service Commissioner Randy Christmann, has similar concerns about the impact EPA power plant emissions standards could have on our ability to meet growing power demand in the state with new power generation.

Christmann told me in an interview that the EPA has set emissions standards high on purpose, so that new coal-fired power plants can’t hope to meet them. “It seems like they’re just picking a number that can’t be met,” he said. He also said that despite demand for power, there are no plans in the works for new power generation.

It’s badly needed.

“The transmission grid is running on maximum. It’s pretty much full all the time. It’s very sensitive to a thunderstorm going through.” That’s what Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said last summer.

Which brings us to today. North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer questioned witnesses testifying on the EPA’s proposed regulations (which would apply to new power plants, though they have regs in the works for existing plants). “We have a demand for over 2,000 megawatts…that’s not being met,” Cramer said of North Dakota.

Cramer has been working to address this issue by backing legislation which just passed in the House which would require proposed standards for new plants to be shown achievable for a continuous 12-month period by at least six electric generating units at different plants, including a subcategory for at least three lignite units.

In other words, the legislation would require regulators to prove that proposed regulations are actually achievable before they’re implemented as law.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • matthew_bosch

    Or those in support of regulation can avoid the scientific method and label those in favor of reasonable legislation as akin to holocaust deniers.

  • Jerry

    Nuclear, baby!

  • sbark

    The entire strategy by the left is too make electricity soo expensive we beg for wind and solar funding expansion from the Fed Govt……..but in the end Elec supply goes down in dependability and double in cost……….N.Dak needs to let Minneapolis know that that left wing bastion of “thought” will be the 1st to be cut back …….give them advance warming so they can jump all over wind towers right now, maybe spend that money instead of a new Vikes stadium, or least scale it back some–drop the trophy room which will never be needed.

    • Rob

      I hate it when politicians talk about an “all of the above” strategy, as though it were OK to fund boondoggles like wind and solar because you’re not for choking coal and oil to death.

      How about a “we’ll use what works” strategy?

      • sbark

        They get away with it because those that support the moves never pay any consequenses for the moves………
        I know the various power co’s in N.Dak have contracts to deliver power east, but with Obama changing our country from a rule of Law society …….to a rule by men in power society those contracts can quickly become subject to change…..we never promised if you like your cheap electricity you can keep your cheap electricity……..N.Dak needs to make plans to protect N.Dak best interests……or raise the cost of Elec going to Minn etc right now to pay for the EPA fines here. Let Minn. know that is why their cost is going up….Liberalism/EPA govt within a govt.

  • Jerry

    When is Helms going to shave? That beard presents an unprofessional appearance for a state level executive. It’s unkempt and distracting to the point of almost being creepy. Baby birds could be nesting in there. If he has a medical condition, he could still keep it neatly trimmed.

    However, if he’s growing it for some kind of centennial observance or to show support for a loved one, please disregard the above comments.

    • Rob

      Why do you care if he has a beard or not?

    • Clairvoyant

      A neatly trimmed beard is professional. A ZZ Top/Duck Dynasty “Scag look” beard is not. Helms is the latter. I think he keeps it that way to be more “in your face”, to the folks in Bismarck.

    • Prairiemom3

      Yes. Appearance uber alles.

    • sbark

      Lets him blend into the late night Bakken crowd incognito…….hear whats going on at the grassroots level :)

  • Goon’s ND Redneck

    I like how these Asshats at the EPA think they can just make these regulations up and then not care what happens to people when they’re sitting in their house freezing to death during the winter. This green energy is a farce.

  • NoDak for Life

    The new EPA standards made by the Obama WH are a scandal. The first job of the EPA is to make sure our country is safe and has enough power, not make a shortage

  • Mark Allen

    Rob, I like the “We’ll use what works strategy”. The EPA regulations are not based on cost-effective science with readily achievable goals other than to put these industries out of business. Another reason to vote and remove these asshats from power and send them back to hell where they came from. The Demoncrats in the Senate held an “all-nighter” last Monday and babbled on and on for 15 hours about global warming. Their time would have been better spent and the country much better off if they all had simply held their breath for that 15 hours…………