Energy Alert: North Dakota Energy Boom's New Focus Is On Electricity: Additional 2,059 MW Needed By 2032


[authors: James J. Bertrand and Jannelle Steger Combs]

A recent report released by the North Dakota Transmission Authority forecasts that North Dakota will need an additional 2,059 MW to meet the growing demand from its oil and gas boom associated with the exploration of the Bakken shale. The report, Power Forecast 2012, can be found at the North Dakota Industrial Commission website.

Bakken Region Needs Additional 859 MW by 2017 and Another 570 MW by 2022

Power Forecast 2012 includes in its forecast the 22 North Dakota counties experiencing the most oil and gas activity. Expected load growth is as follows:

  • 2017—1,830 MW, an 88% increase over five years.
  • 2022—2,400 MW, another 31% increase over five years.
  • 2027—2,769 MW, another 15% increase over five years.
  • 2032—3,030 MW, another 9% increase over five years.

Projections suggest that by 2032 McKenzie County will have a 339% increase in electricity demands and Williams County a 232% increase.

Main Drivers Are Drilling Activity and Well Production

Power Forecast 2012 identifies four principal drivers pushing load growth and projects their impact in five-year increments (using approximations for data reported only in graphs).

  2012 2017 2022 2027 2032
Well Count 8,000 17,500 26,000 32,500 36,000
Drilling Rigs 204 198 150 100 60
Housing Temporary 27,000 27,000 20,000 7,000 2,000
Housing Permanent 80,000 100,000 120,000 130,000 138,000

In addition to these drivers, employment (both temporary and permanent) is expected to climb over the next ten years when development is expected to taper off, with many permanent jobs replacing temporary jobs. Population in the region is anticipated to increase 52% over the next 20 years, with temporary residential population decreasing after ten years. Facilities related to oil and gas exploration, such as secondary and tertiary recovery, gas processing facilities, water treatment plants, and oil and gas pipelines, are included in the forecasted load demand.

Attorneys in our Bismarck Office Can Assist Clients in Energy and Related Fields

With an office in Bismarck, Leonard, Street and Deinard is well positioned to assist companies seeking to help meet the growing demand for electricity in the region, as well as those companies that seek to explore and produce oil and gas and the companies that serve the oil and gas industry. In addition, our real estate development experience in North Dakota allows us to assist companies pursuing commercial and residential development to meet the demand in those areas. We have established strong working relationships with many state agencies, county commissions, and city and township boards.

Our Energy practice provides full-service legal counsel to electric energy and natural gas companies in federal regulatory and restructuring proceedings, as well as in transactional and litigated matters to clients nationwide. As the number of clients the firm serves in North Dakota has grown over the last couple of decades, and as those clients' businesses have grown, Leonard, Street and Deinard has grown right along with them. From our Bismarck office, the firm currently offers legal services to North Dakota-based clients in the areas of energy, employment and labor law, environmental law, health law, construction law, corporate, financial services, employee benefits, trust and estate planning, and litigation, among others.


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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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