UPDATE NOVEMBER 2006: At the November 2-3, 2005, annual meeting, the members of Basin Electric adopted a resolution that calls for obtaining renewable resources by 2010 that will be equal to 10 percent of the generating capacity needed to meet its member demand.
Members of the primarily coal-based Basin Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Bismarck, ND, will vote in November on whether to require the cooperative to acquire 10 percent of its electric generating capacity from renewable energy.
Earlier this week Basin Electric along with Florida Power and Light broke ground on a 50 MW wind energy project in North Dakota. Scheduled to be operational by the end of the year, this newest acquisition of wind energy will give Basin Electric a total of nearly 135 MW of renewable electric capacity. If the renewable energy standard resolution passes, Basin Electric will acquire another 75 MW block of wind energy by 2010.
Basin Electric is a regional, customer-owned wholesale power supplier – a generation and transmission cooperative. Electricity is distributed to 121 member-owned rural electric cooperatives in nine western states. The costs of the RPS will be negligible when they are spread out among 1.8 million end use customers.
John Bailey, editor of the Democratic Energy e-Bulletin notes, “This is a great example of how cooperatively-owned utilities should be developing renewable energy today. Too many coops have adopted a “green pricing” approach to renewable energy development [letting individual members/ratepayers pay extra for small blocks of renewable energy] rather than putting the issue to a vote by the whole membership.”
Bailey added, “Other G&T cooperatives thinking about adopting Basin Electric’s approach should be more agressive and base their RPS on megawatt-hours (MWhs) rather than MWs.” A 10 percent standard based on MWhs might increase the wind energy capacity needed by 2-3 times due to generally lower capacity factors than traditional energy resources.