Cutting Back on Coal Could Create Power Shoratge

Published 10/24 2016 03:53PM

Updated 10/25 2016 10:04AM

North Dakota has many different sources they can rely on for energy.
This could come in handy for other states who may need extra power, as they move away from coal-based electricity.
Ben Smith explains.

Wind energy has come a long way.
North Dakota turbines these days are much bigger.

"They also have bigger rotors, and that helps them get the bigger capacity," says Jerry Lein, Public Utility Analyst

He says wind power has become more efficient in the last decade.

"The earlier turbines.  The one by Valley City is 900 KW turbine.  Now they're generally over 2000 KW which is 2 Megawatts," he says

Wind power makes up about 15% of the state's electricity.
The vast majority still comes from coal.

"I think that what people have to remember is the more renewables you bring on the grid, the more gas peakers you bring on the grid, the more you subject your grid to volatility of prices.  If you want to keep low-cost energy, you absolutely have to have have base load coal, and base load nuclear," says Brian Kalk

Many states are quickly moving away from coal-based power to meet carbon-emission regulations.
This may cause problems if a cold winter comes up.

"And basically the states right now of Michigan, Illinois, and Missouri are projected to potentially be short on power this winter.  They retired some base load coal quicker than they could bring in what they needed for backup power," says Kalk

North Dakota has many energy resources and often shares power with nearby areas.
This may come into play with more states moving away from coal.

"They're relying more and more on transmission lines to help them meet their needs.  And that really opens up the big discussion about who should pay for these transmission lines, where they should be built at," says Kalk

He says North Dakota-produced power often travels hundreds of miles to areas in need.

Demand for natural gas is expected to rise over the winter.
According to the Energy Information Administration, prices could increase more than 10%.

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