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Peaking Plants

North Dakota is home to three natural gas-fired peaking plants. Peaking plants provide power generation companies with higher-cost, rapid response to regional “peaks” in the demand for electricity. The additional generating capacity is used in extreme weather conditions when demand for electricity exceeds the capacity of baseload facilities. They can be powered up from stand- by status to full load very quickly and in some cases can be operated from a remote site. In North Dakota, the peaking plants are fueled by either natural gas or fuel oil. (The fuel oil peaking plant is run by Otter Tail Power Company – it has two fuel oil combustion turbines in Jamestown, N.D., that have a total capacity of 42.1 MW).

Basin Electric Power Cooperative built two natural gas-fired peaking stations in 2012 to help provide much-needed electrical stability in western North Dakota.

  • Lonesome Creek Station, located west of Watford City, N.D., started commercial operation in December 2013. The cooperative has since added two more units to the plant site, bringing Lonesome Creek Station’s total generation capacity to 135 megawatts. Basin Electric is currently seeking permits to construct 90 megawatts of additional generating capacity at the site.
  • Pioneer Generation Station, located northwest of Williston, N.D., started commercial operation in September 2013. The cooperative has since added two more units, bringing the station’s total generation to 135 megawatts. Basin Electric is planning to construct an additional 112 megawatts of generation at the site.
  • Both stations employ General Electric LM 6000 combustion turbine generators. However, the planned additional power coming from the Pioneer Generation Station site is slated to be generated using reciprocating engines.

Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. has an 88 MW natural gas-fired unit, Heskett 3, located next to its coal-based Heskett Station near Mandan, N.D. The unit uses a General Electric 7EA combustion turbine. It went online in 2014.