Today’s story only scratches the surface of this report and this topic. More to come in the coming weeks.
Proposed energy policy reviewed
BISMARCK – North Dakota lawmakers were presented Thursday with a proposed state energy policy for the future.
The 28-page document highlights accomplishments, challenges and goals for all of the state’s energy areas, as well as for work force and infrastructure issues.
The proposal was created by the EmPower North Dakota Commission, which is led by Commerce Commissioner Shane Goettle and includes 13 representatives from the state’s various energy sectors.
Here are a few goals in the report:
•Double North Dakota’s energy production from all sources by the year 2025 in an environmentally friendly way to drive economic growth and help the nation achieve greater energy independence.
•Build new clean-coal electric generation plants.
•Build new lignite gasification and liquefaction facilities to produce synthetic natural gas, lignite-to-liquid fuels, hydrogen, and other chemicals and co-products.
•Produce 450 million gallons of ethanol by 2015 and develop both in-state and out-of-state markets for ethanol and associated co-products. The state’s ethanol plants now have a capacity of 350 million gallons per year.
•Become a national leader in the development of economically viable, production-scale cellulosic ethanol production facilities.
•Develop an export market to increase installed capacity of wind generation to 5,000 megawatts by 2020. In the past eight years, the state’s wind generation capacity has grown to 1,200 megawatts, with another 6,000 in the planning stage.
As for work-force issues, the commission wants an advisory board created for energy industry and higher education officials to discuss educating and training workers.
The group also recommends expanding the state’s recruitment and marketing strategy.
Sen. George Nodland, R-Dickinson, asked for specifics on work-force training and attracting employees. Goettle said 77 employers are now being surveyed about their skill needs.
Sen. John Andrist, R-Crosby, asked if recruiting is being done in states with high unemployment.
“The challenge we have in going out and recruiting is where would we put the people,” Goettle said.
A number of issues are contributing to the housing crunch, including a fear of investment, Goettle said.
“What the development market needs is good information from the companies that are in that region, knowing the kinds of investments that they’re making are for the long term,” he said.
Legislators on the Energy Development and Transmission Committee also discussed the level of funding oil-producing counties receive. Andrist thinks there should be emergency assistance available for areas hit hard by infrastructure issues.
“We need some kind of mechanism so we can help people move quickly, at least reasonably quickly, to take care of these situations,” he said. “It’s really hard to plan where those oil wells are going to go in.”
The committee plans to meet again in August. Goettle said his staff will work on creating possible bill drafts, long-term plans and studies for the committee to review at its next meeting.