At the beginning of the millennium, management of Basin Electric passed to Ronald R. Harper, formerly manager of Powder River Energy Corporation (PRECorp), the largest electric cooperative in Wyoming. Harper became CEO and general manager at a time Basin Electric's surplus power was sold less in the marketplace, and more to the membership because member demand for power was growing.

Even though many rural areas continue to experience population loss, Basin Electric is experiencing load growth throughout our system in every class. To serve this growth, Basin Electric set in motion a plan to expand its generating resources. Under Harper's leadership, Basin Electric grew its membership, number of generation facilities, transmission and substations, and created new subsidiaries.

More power for the membership

45 megawatts of combustion turbine generators were dedicated at three sites in 2002. The generators are serving the coal bed methane development in Power River Energy Corporation's service territory.

Earl F. Wisdom Generating Station Unit 2 is a partnership between Basin Electric and Corn Belt Power Cooperative, Humboldt, IA. Corn Belt Power is a Class A member-owner of Basin Electric. Basin Electric and Corn Belt Power each have a 40-megawatt ownership share in the 80-megawatt natural gas/oil-fired combustion turbine.

From 2006 to 2009, eight recovered energy generation units were built along the Northern Border Pipeline. The 44 megawatts of green energy generated by these units helps Basin Electric meet a renewable portfolio standard of 10 percent by 2012 if adopted at either a state or federal level.

A direct current tie was built near Rapid City, SD, and became operational in 2003. The tie brings electricity from Antelope Valley Station in North Dakota across the national electric transmission separation to our west-side loads.

In 2006, Basin Electric built its first natural gas peaking plant near Groton, SD, and another in 2008. Each 95-megawatt unit is powered by a GE LMS100® simple cycle gas turbine. Basin Electric has built another plant near Culbertson, MT.

Building fields of steel

Basin Electric first ventured into wind energy in 2002, when an agreement was reached with FPL Energy LLC (now NextEra Energy) to purchase the output of two 40-megawatt wind projects, one in each of the Dakotas. Basin Electric also developed a 2.6-megawatt wind project in partnership with East River Electric Cooperative near Chamberlain, SD, and a 2.6-megawatt wind project near Minot, ND.

Basin Electric joined forces with NextEra Energy several more times, with agreements to buy the output of wind projects near Wilton, ND, and near Groton, SD.

In 2009, Basin Electric began building the largest wind project to be owned and operated by a cooperative. PrairieWinds 1, a 115.5-megawatt project located near Minot, ND, and it became operational in early 2010. Dedication ceremonies for the $363-million Crow Lake Wind Project, a 108 turbine project near White, SD - the largest wind project in the United States owned solely by a cooperative - were held in June 2011. PrairieWinds SD 1 Inc., owns 100 turbines, one turbine is owned by Mitchell Technical Institute, and the remaining seven are owned by South Dakota Wind Partners.

Dry Fork Station

In 2011 Basin Electric completed construction of the 385-megawatt coal-based Dry Fork Station near Gillette, WY.

Ronald R. Harper