- A proposed Basin Electric Power Cooperative transmission line that would carry power from a substation near the center of North Dakota to the state's booming northwestern Bakken oil patch won approvals from the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service.
- The project still requires clearance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Western Area Power Administration but Basin Electric said the newest approvals, along with the approvals it got from state regulators earlier this year, will allow it to begin construction on the $375 million, 345 kilovolt system expected to be completed by 2017.
- It appears there will be no further disruption caused by a 2013 resolution from five North Dakota Native American tribes opposing the project because it crosses the historic Killdeer Mountain Battlefield where U.S. troops fought Sioux warriors in 1864.
Utility Dive’s recent series on transmission projects chronicles the obstacles would-be transmission developers face.
The most time-consuming challenges for transmission developers come from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) permitting process, which is notorious for its complexities and delays. The Obama administration’s Federal Rapid Response Team for Transmission (RRTT), which was created to streamline federal agency cooperation in permitting procedures, appears to have been successful in this case.
Oil development and production in the Bakken shale formation drove the need for the new transmission lines as the population of the previously remote and rural northwestern part of the state has grown by 10,000 or more since drilling began.