‘Energy corridor’ concept pushed in North Dakota

Published 10:21 am Thursday, September 26, 2013

BISMARCK, N.D. — Gov. Jack Dalrymple and a Minnesota-based energy company are pushing the concept of an “energy corridor” that could move oil, natural gas, electricity and water out of western North Dakota.

Dalyrmple and Allete Inc. officials announced the concept on Wednesday at the state Capitol in Bismarck. The idea is to establish a right of way adjacent to Allete’s existing electric transmission line from in western North Dakota to Duluth, where such things as oil and natural gas could be shipped to other markets.

Pipelines in the corridor also could move water to other parts of the state and wastewater from North Dakota’s oil patch. Coal-fired power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions also could be sent along the corridor to be stored underground or used for enhanced oil recovery, Dalrymple and company officials said.

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The corridor would consolidate and simplify the shipment of several energy sources along a single line, cutting costs and lessening impacts to landowners, Dalrymple and Allete Chairman and CEO Alan Hodnik said.

“We will encourage people to look at this,” Dalrymple said.

Allete’s existing transmission lines carries electricity from its wind farm in western North Dakota and from the Minnkota Power Cooperative’s Milton R. Young Station near Center. Allete owns the mine near Center that provides coal to the power plant. The company also owns, among other things, a Minnesota electric utility that serves more than 140,000 residents and large industrial customers.

Allete officials said they are working with other companies that are interested in the energy corridor concept.

Eric Norberg, president of Allete Clean Energy, a unit of Allete Inc., hinted that a project in the proposed corridor could be made public in about six months.

Dalrymple said his top priority would be to establish a natural gas pipeline along the proposed corridor.

“The odds of that happening are greatly enhanced by this project,” Dalrymple said.

About 30 percent of the natural gas produced in North Dakota is burned off as a byproduct of the state’s soaring oil production, compared to less than 1 percent in oil fields nationwide. The amount of natural gas that’s torched and wasted daily by drillers in North Dakota’s oil patch also is costing the state millions of dollars annually in lost revenue.