HOEVEN OUTLINES EFFORTS TO ENSURE RELIABLE, AFFORDABLE ELECTRIC GRID, NEED FOR BASELOAD POWER SOURCES LIKE COAL

Devils Lake Journal

MANDAN, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven helped break ground on the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC) and Bismarck State College’s (BSC) new lineworker training facility.

The more than 26,000 sq. ft. facility will build on the 50 years of partnership between the college and NDAREC, supporting enhanced, year-round training opportunities for the region’s electric industry. The construction is funded by a $4 million federal grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA), as well as $1 million in matching funds from local electric cooperatives. Hoeven, along with Senator Kevin Cramer and Congressman Kelly Armstrong, joined then-Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in announcing the grant in August.

The more than 26,000 sq. ft. facility will build on the 50 years of partnership between the college and NDAREC, supporting enhanced, year-round training opportunities for the region’s electric industry.

The new training facility aligns with Hoeven’s ongoing efforts to ensure the reliability of the electric grid. To this end, Hoeven is:

    Supporting the continued use of baseload power sources like coal.

        Hoeven is advancing efforts to crack the code on carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies.

        The senator is also pressing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to ensure baseload power sources are properly valued.

    Working as the lead Republican on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee to promote robust investment in rural infrastructure, including electric systems, by securing strong funding for Rural Utilities Service (RUS) loan and grant programs.

        Senators Hoeven and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) also recently reintroduced their legislation to allow rural electric cooperatives and telecommunications providers to refinance their RUS debt at lower interest rates, enabling them to better invest in rural communities and pass savings on to customers.

“Our electric cooperatives play an essential role in North Dakota’s quality of life, and we appreciate their continued investment in the future of our state, as this new training facility will help ensure a skilled workforce to expand and maintain our electric grid for years to come,” said Hoeven. “We are working to help ensure our cooperatives’ success in providing the reliable and affordable power that our homes and businesses need. This includes securing strong support for the federal programs they rely on and advancing new innovations like CCUS that will enable our nation to continue utilizing baseload power sources, including North Dakota’s abundant coal resources.”

Cracking the Code on CCUS

Hoeven continues supporting the development of CCUS technologies to help produce more energy from coal-fired electric power, while also reducing emissions. His efforts include:

    Getting the 45Q tax credit implemented in a way that makes CCUS projects more commercially-viable.

    Securing funding in the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations legislation for critical loan guarantee programs at the Department of Energy (DOE) and RUS to help CCUS project developers secure financing.

        This aligns with legislation Hoeven helped introduce to provide loans and grants to support construction of CCUS infrastructure.

    Prioritizing enhancements for the 45Q and 48A Advanced Coal tax credits, which include his legislation to modernize the 48A tax credit for CO2 capture retrofit projects and a bipartisan bill he helped introduce to provide a direct payment option for the 45Q and 48A CCUS tax incentives.

    Bolstering DOE’s partnership with UND’s Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) in support of efforts like Project Tundra.

        Hoeven has helped secure $43 million in federal funding for Project Tundra.

Ensuring a Fair Value for Coal

At the same time, Hoeven is working to ensure coal’s role as a reliable source of baseload power is properly valued. Accordingly, the senator has been making the case to FERC that the grid is being forced away from baseload resources like coal and outlining the need to maintain diverse sources of electricity.

Hoeven also outlined the importance for baseload power sources in promoting the reliability and resiliency of the grid to James Robb, President and CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), during a recent ENR Committee hearing. The senator highlighted a letter from former Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette addressing this issue, specifically citing that:

    The National Energy Technology Lab (NETL) found that nuclear, coal, oil and natural gas were the most reliable sources of generation during the 2014 Polar Vortex and the 2018 “bomb cyclone.”

    The current “bid-based” markets established by FERC fail to properly value baseload power, and these markets need to adequately price reliability and resiliency to ensure power is available to all when it is needed most.

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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