the So-called Execs get their bonus, and more and the Shareholders get a sample size Jar of KY..
From MDU press release..
The refining segment experienced a $7.2 million loss, which includes the results of the company's 50 percent ownership interest in the Dakota Prairie Refinery. The refinery, which began commercial operation in May 2015, is operating satisfactorily. However, market conditions for diesel and naphtha have deteriorated greatly. The Bakken basis differential from West Texas Intermediate (WTI) pricing remains narrow, which increases the refinery's cost for its crude oil feedstock. The company continues to focus on operational improvements and cost-cutting measures at the plant to improve profitability.
In light of current market conditions, the company is assessing various options with respect to its ownership interest in the refinery, is assessing the potential for an impairment charge at some future time if current market conditions persist, and continues to assess potential impairment indicators.
Dickinson press article.. to what extent will this slowdown effect MDU and earnings..??
WILLISTON -- Though thousands of hotel rooms and apartments sit empty and a major big-box store is about to close, those who work there say they're still optimistic about North Dakota's Oil Patch.
"I do say we are busier than you would think we would be," said Tom Rolfstad, Williston's former economic development director.
Still, as drilling rigs went from more than 200 during the boom to below 30, development has dried up. A Home Depot store that opened just three years ago will close next week.
Shane Roers came from the family business in Fargo to Dickinson, where Roers West has made a mark developing new projects for businesses, apartments and homes.
"I think that there's definitely not a fear factor like there was in the past, but I can tell you there's people not pulling the trigger on stuff," Roers said. "As oil gets up to 40 bucks, maybe that will start easing. If we can get up to 50 bucks -- it's going to take some time. If it jumped up to 60 bucks tomorrow, it's not going to happen right away. It's going to have to level off and get some stability until people feel comfortable with it."
In Williston, hotels have the biggest challenges. Twenty-two were built during the boom, and even that wasn't enough back then. Now they have 1,800 open rooms and are running at just 20 to 25 percent capacity, Rolfstad said.
"They're actually more on the bleeding edge than anybody," he said.
That's one reason some in Williston want to shut down the remaining crew camps for oil workers, allowing hotels to benefit from workers still here.
With about 3,200 vacant apartments in Williston, Rolfstad figures about 6,400 bedrooms are vacant. And rents are down by "half at least," he said.
At the height of the boom, tenants were paying $2,500 a month. Now, occupancy is so low property managers are offering deals and incentives to incentives to renters who often are paying something close to $750 a month.
todays Washington Post. don
OMAHA, Neb. — The Latest on Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting, where tens of thousands of people have listened to CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger talk business for several hours (all times local):
Berkshire Hathaway shareholders have overwhelmingly rejected a resolution calling for the company to write a report about the risks climate change creates for its insurance companies.
CEO Warren Buffett says he agrees that dealing with climate change is important for society, but he doesn’t think climate change creates serious risks for Berkshire’s insurance businesses.
Buffett says the fact that Berkshire generally writes insurance policies for one-year periods allows it to regularly re-evaluate risks, such as climate change.
The activists who proposed the motion tried to urge Buffett to take a public stance in favor of measures to reduce consumption of fossil fuels, but he resisted.
Stearns County commissioners will hear from the public on Tuesday whether they should temporarily ban new solar farms.
The county board has scheduled a public hearing at 10:10 a.m. on a proposed moratorium on solar projects to allow time to review and change the county's land-use regulations.
Minnesota is seeing a flood of proposed solar projects, largely because of a 2013 state law that required utilities to get at least 1.5 percent of their electricity from solar by 2020. The plunging price of solar technology also is making the projects more lucrative for developers. Congress recently extended a federal tax credit for renewable energy projects until 2019.
Stearns was the first county in the state to enact standards for solar farms in 2009 in response to a request from St. John's University.
Some recently proposed solar projects in Stearns County have drawn opposition from residents who don't want to see a solar farm in their neighborhoods. Neighboring residents objected to rezoning property in Wakefield Township earlier this month planned for a SunEdison solar project.
The board could decide against enacting a moratorium and instead create a working group to review the county's regulations with an outside consultant.
Bohrer said the industry knows it will be a challenge securing the funding because budgets are tight but LEC aims to make lawmakers understand the rule’s magnitude.
“The Clean Power Plan changes the world we live in today,” McLennan said. “It’s the biggest problem facing the industry today
Bohrer said the industry has been able to deal with regulatory issues on its own in the past so state lawmakers assume: “You guys are going to be able to fix this right? … They have a hard time visualizing plants will shut down.”
Carbon restrictions are not likely to go away no matter what the U.S. Supreme Court decides regarding the Clean Power Plans’ constitutionality, said Wade Boeshans, president of BNI Coal. The High Court could decide to leave the rule as it is.
If nothing else about the rule is changed, what the lignite industry hopes to see is a better timeline, Bohrer said. Instead of having to reach an interim benchmark, utilities are aiming to have until the final 2030 deadline to meet the changes
“If you give us until 2025, we think we could make it happen,” Bohrer said.
A technology the lignite industry is pinning high hopes on to solve its carbon woes is the Allam Cycle.
The Allam Cycle, invented by 8 Rivers, uses pressurized carbon dioxide rather than steam to generate power more efficiently, at a lower cost and cleanly. It is being tested on a $140 million, 50-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant in Texas. After completing engineering and design work, North Dakota’s Energy & Environmental Research Center and industry partners decided the technology had potential for use with gasified lignite coal.
Part of the $5 million general fund appropriation to the Lignite Research Council went to lab test the Allam Cycle carbon capture and utilization system against the properties in lignite coal to determine what materials would be necessary to make the technology w
Bismarck tribune article. don
North Dakota coal plans to ask the state for financial help — billions of dollars of financial help over time.
Despite a stay on the federal rule, the coal industry potentially faces large carbon dioxide emission reduction requirements from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.
“This is no longer a vague threat out there in the future,” Lignite Energy Council President Jason Bohrer told members at the organization’s annual meeting this week in Bismarck.
Bohrer said North Dakota policy makers will need to answer the question: Will the state set a priority to help the lignite industry remain viable?
The coal industry asked the state for a direct appropriation for the first time during the past legislative session — $5 million from the general fund for the Lignite Research Council. The council, which makes recommendations to the North Dakota Industrial Commission on funding lignite coal-related research projects, was typically funded with extraction taxes collected from the coal industry.
Over the next several legislative sessions, the industry plans to ask for more.
"Because of the challenges facing the industry, it will be at magnitudes larger than what people have thought about historically,” said Mac McLennan, CEO of Minnkota Power Cooperative.
McLennan said the LEC is working on a package that will likely include requests for a multitude of tax incentives, including incentivizing oil companies who use carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery, potential financing from the Bank of North Dakota and more research and development funding.
“I can’t do it on my own as a utility because of the risk,” McLennan said of investments. “If it doesn’t work, you’re in trouble.”
This funding request would be the state’s way of sharing in the risk and making it more viable for the industry, according to McLennan.
Use subject for search .. don
•U.S. wind energy generation rose to 191 TWh in 2015, accounting for 4.7% of the country’s electricity. That was an increase on the 4.4% wind contributed to U.S. power in 2014 but, due to weaker winds, it was only a 5.1% increase on 2014’s total TWh, the smallest increase in wind’s output since 1999.
•Weather patterns in the Western U.S. caused lower wind speeds and decreased wind production in the first half of 2015, though the same weather patterns caused the stronger winds in the central U.S. that were the basis for major wind output growth in that region.
•U.S. wind’s cumulative installed capacity reached 73 GW in 2015. New wind capacity grew by 8.1 GW, a 12.9% gain, and wind led all resources in new installed capacity for the year, accounting for 41% of new U.S. megawatts. Wind was second only to hydropower in TWh of generation from renewable sources.
Wind productivity is regularly affected by seasonal wind patterns, regional factors, and climate variations. But the absolute amount of wind generation and wind's share of total U.S. electricity generation have increased every year since at least 1999.
While natural gas prices are near historic lows today, most analysts believe prices will rise, and utilities in some regions of the country are realizing gas plants may not be the best cost bet over the long term.
The extension of wind’s $23/MWh federal production tax credit (PTC) late last year and the 66% drop since 2009 of wind’s installed cost make new investments in wind appealing to many utilities, especially those in the center of the country, like Xcel Energy.
“With the full $23/MWh PTC, wind produces energy at below the cost of a combined cycle turbine with the forward gas curve we see. That is in-the-money,” Xcel Energy Colorado President David Eves recently told Utility Dive
was changed twice the week of april 21st.. the Previous was $ 19.20 from Feb 6th of this yr.. the new projected TP is $21.00 .. based on a $ 1.08 earnings in 2016 that is a astonishing PE of 19.44 for a 3rd rated utility stock.. Tues also is Market day in Bismarck as the company has its Annual meeting .. don
this excerpt from todays Bismarck trib. lots of additional info on size of airport and usage numbers in article..use subject as search .. don
Officials in Williston have begun acquiring land for a new airport, which is increasingly drawing concerns from county commissioners over a potential eminent domain process if landowners aren’t willing to sell.
Williston's airport saw a 10-fold increase in passengers from 2008 to 2014, in large part due to record oil activity. Supporters are calling the estimated $265 million project a substantial long-term upgrade to the city.
Sloulin Field International Airport Director Steven Kjergaard said the city plans to follow the federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, which outlines the land acquisition process for public airports
Williams County Commissioner Martin Hanson has long opposed the project, saying the current facility is adequate if runway upgrades are made to meet Federal Aviation Administration requirements.
“There’s nothing that’s changed in my point of view,” Hanson said. “Maybe I’m Don Quixote and maybe I’m just tilting at windmills, but I figured someone has to say something about this.”
Article from todays Bismarck trib. don
Unemployment claims at Job Service North Dakota have subsided from a seasonal high — an average of 708 claims per week in April compared to 1,624 claims per week four months ago — and job openings are on the rise.
“We’re pleased to see that job opportunities continue to grow across North Dakota at a steady pace,” said Cheri Giesen, executive director of Job Service North Dakota, in a statement. “We also anticipated that unemployment claims would decline as the seasonal slowdown for several occupation types comes to an end.”
North Dakota has more than 15,000 online job openings, up from about 13,500 in December, January and February, and the state continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation — 3.9 percent in March in North Dakota compared to 5 percent nationally.
The western North Dakota region has had more than 180 employers participate in Job Service job fairs and the eastern North Dakota region is expecting to have over more than 150 employers participate in upcoming events.
The largest number of job openings in March was for health care practitioners, which includes occupations such as doctors, dentists, pharmacists, registered nurses, paramedics and chiropractors. This sector had 1,696 openings. Agriculture had 1,344 openings, office support had 1,179 openings, sales had 1,162 opening, and transportation had 873 openings.
Ward County, Cass County, Burleigh County and Grand Forks County, which house the state’s largest metropolitan areas, had the largest number of job openings. There were 835 job openings in Williams County and 681 openings in Stark County.
Another Intermittent Electric supply bites the Dust..Sure some say they can store in batteries,, Ask the old times who live in Western ND and MT they had Wind chargers as kids... they were a pain in the ...ss. I have ask and they all said the maintenance was perpetual.. How are you going to get a yuppy to do maintenance when they can Not even find a Pizza shop with out a gps on their phone.. don
NEW YORK (AP) — SunEdison, a one-time star in the alternative energy field, filed for bankruptcy protection Thursday after years of rapid-fire acquisitions left the solar company in a desperate cash situation.
Just last week an audit committee reviewing operations at company, based in Maryland Heights, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis, found an "overly optimistic culture and its tone at the top." The committee also said that at SunEdison, "cash forecasting efforts lack sufficient controls and processes."
"Our decision to initiate a court-supervised restructuring was a difficult but important step to address our immediate liquidity issues," said CEO Ahmad Chatila, in a company release.
SunEdison, which had grown to an almost $10 billion solar energy behemoth by July, had burnished that progression through a series of sizeable acquisitions.
BISMARCK, N.D. - April 5, 2016 - MDU Resources Group, Inc. (NYSE: MDU) announced today that it has finalized the sale of its last marketed oil and natural gas production property. This completes the sale of the oil and natural gas assets marketed by subsidiary Fidelity Exploration & Production Company. Fidelity’s offices, headquartered in Denver, are expected to be closed by mid-year.
Since late 2015, MDU Resources has sold its oil and natural gas production and lease assets under several agreements, including its Bakken assets in North Dakota; its Baker and Bowdoin assets, primarily in Montana; its Powder River Basin assets in Wyoming; its Greater Gulf Coast assets, primarily in Texas; its Cedar Creek Anticline assets in Montana; and its Paradox Basin assets in Utah.
“This completes the final sale of our Fidelity properties,” said David L. Goodin, president and CEO of MDU Resources. “Exiting the E&P business lowers our risk profile, and it allows us to focus more on growing our other business operations.”
The company, in aggregate, recognized proceeds and tax benefits of approximately $500 million from the oil and natural gas asset sales. MDU Resources is using the proceeds primarily to repay debt associated with Fidelity. The company expects to reinvest proceeds in excess of debt repayments into its other business units, including the utility operations’ $1.5 billion, five-year capital expenditure program.
Minnesota regulators on Thursday approved a solar power project near Marshall, Minn., that will be the second-largest in the state.
NextEra Energy Resources was cleared to build a 62-megawatt solar generator on 515 acres of farmland three miles east of Marshall. One megawatt is 1 million watts of electricity.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission unanimously voted to approve the project, rejecting concerns that it violated state policy against building energy projects on prime farmland.
It is the second utility-scale solar generation project approved by state regulators to serve Xcel Energy customers. The Minneapolis-based utility won’t own either solar farm, but will purchase the electricity under long-term contracts to supply its 1.2 million Minnesota customers.
“This is a new area,” Commissioner John Tuma said. “We want to succeed because we want to continue to mine our energy here so that the dollars stay here. Instead of paying some big developer to build a [coal] mine out in Wyoming, we’re actually mining our energy right here.”
Neighbors of the Marshall project who raised concerns about replacing cropland with acres of solar structures said they haven’t decided whether to appeal the commission’s decision.
“We are disappointed and in a little bit of shock,” said neighbor Janelle Geurts.
Court Anderson, an attorney for her and other neighbors, said that the commission decision, if it stands, will set a bad precedent for protecting prime farmland.
“What should be a green, environmentally friendly solar project is anything but that when it is knocking out prime farmland,” he said.
A conservation group has identified three Midwest wind projects among ten nationally that it says show a need for greater regulation to protect birds.
Michael Hutchins, who directs the American Bird Conservancy’s Bird-Smart Wind Energy Campaign, says wind turbines are likely to cause excessive mortality rates when they are located along heavily used migration routes or near important habitat where birds tend to breed or feed.
Two of the projects — in North Dakota and Kansas — lie along migration paths for the federally endangered whooping crane, according to the Conservancy. And at the Kansas site, located about 30 miles south of the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, a 66-mile-long transmission line and associated towers would pose additional hazards, the group said.
In northwest Missouri, the proposed Rock Creek wind farm could threaten some of the migrating birds that use the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge for a pit stop, according to the Conservancy. Late in the fall, the refuge typically attracts around one million snow geese, as well as several hundred bald eagles and a smaller number of trumpeter and tundra swans.
“There’s plenty of data to suggest that plenty of birds are being struck by the blades on these turbines,” Hutchins said. “Hundreds of thousands at a minimum.” A 2013 study estimated the annual bird loss from wind turbines at between 140,000 and 328,000 in the contiguous U.S. Prior studies have estimated between 10,000 and 573,000.
All of the estimates pale when compared with bird deaths due to other factors, said John Anderson, the American Wind Energy Association’s senior director for permitting policy and environmental affairs.
“In comparison with other structures and environmental toxins which are responsible for killing between 490 million and 2.9 billion birds every year,” he said, “wind energy will never be more than an extremely small fraction of human-related bird fatalities.”
2 more weeks passed since Mar.16th. the SPY closed today at 206.02 up $ 2.68 from the $ 20334 closure .. MDU closed today march 30 at $ 19.46 this is up .83 cents from the $ 18.63 closure of March 16th. .
Remember the Proxy is out ..Vote the Bums out, . don
Electricity rates jump Friday for 26,000 Eastern Montana customers of Montana Dakota Utilities.
Montana’s Public Service Commission approved the 13 percent rate increase Friday and set this Friday as the starting date.
"It's phased in over two years," said Eric Sell, Public Service Commission spokesman. "The first phase goes into affect April 1, 2016. The second phase April 1, 2017."
MDU initially proposed a 21 percent increase, which it said was needed to cover pollution control upgrades and other costs at its coal-powered plants in Montana and South Dakota. The total cost of those improvements, which have already been made, was $400 million split by ratepayers in three states, under the terms of the deal.
The rate increase was reduced last month through a settlement with MDU's large customers and the state consumer counsel for small ratepayers.
The average cost to ratepayers is expected to be $6.38 per month, according to the PSC. Montana customers will shoulder a $3 million increase in 2016 and a $4.4 million increase in 2017.
After the increase, MDU customers will pay about $81 a month, Sell said. The monthly rate is less than the $86 monthly average paid by customers of Northwestern Energy, Montana's other regulated utility.
MDU provides electricity to Montana customers from Miles City east to the North Dakota border. The utility also provides natural gas to Montana customers as far west as Billings. There will be no rate increase for MDU natural gas customers.
Commissioner Kirk Bushman, R-Billings, was the only commissioner to vote against the rate increase.
Bushman told The Gazette that because the 13 percent rate increase was a product of a settlement that did not involve the PSC, he was reluctant to place conditions on the deal.
Bushman decided to vote no after other commissioners began placing conditions on the settlement that he thought could potential
Many U.S. states are considering dialing back solar-power incentives amid growing pressure from local electric utilities, potentially dealing a blow to the companies that install home solar systems around the country.
More than 900,000 homes across the U.S. are equipped with solar panels, with most of those homeowners able to sell any excess electricity their houses generate back to the utility, helping reduce the cost of home solar panels by up to 30%. But the price solar customers get paid for that extra renewable power through so-called net metering is starting to fall, as several states, including Nevada and Hawaii, have slashed their solar subsidies.
Utilities in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Utah and many other states are currently proposing measures that include changing their net metering programs or raising the monthly fees charged to home solar users for hooking their equipment to the power grid. The utilities argue that the ever-smaller base of traditional power customers shouldn’t get stuck paying all the costs of maintaining the grid.
“What is in danger of being overlooked is the harm inflicted on the 96% of our customers who do not have solar,” said Donald Brandt, chairman and chief executive of Arizona Public Service Co., which wants the state regulator to change its solar payment scheme. “This is about a sustainable model for both rooftop solar and the electricity grid, but it’s also about basic fairness for customers.”
Overall, two dozen states are weighing changes to their incentives for rooftop solar power and other renewable-energy policies, according to the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center, which tracks such policies. Incentive payments have been the backbone of home solar firms’ business model.
In Nevada, which ranks eighth in home solar adoption in the U.S., SolarCity Corp. and Sunrun Inc. pulled up stakes in December, laying off hundreds of employees after the state abruptly ended generous incentives for homeowners with solar arrays on their rooftops.
The state’s largest utility, NV Energy Inc.—a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.—had been richly rewarding homeowners for the excess electricity their rooftop panels generated. Nevada regulators voted to replace that program with one that pays a mere fraction of what homeowners had come to rely on.
“Issues in Nevada and other states were simmering before, but now they’re boiling,” said Shawn Kravetz, a fund manager at Esplanade Capital in Boston who invests in solar companies.
A bright spot for the industry is New York, where regulators adopted a new set of policies last fall that include paying homeowners high retail power rates for excess electricity coming from their rooftop solar panels.
this article in Mpls trib. don
Electric rates soon will increase for Minnesota customers of Otter Tail Power Co., a Fergus Falls-based electric utility.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Thursday approved an interim rate hike, beginning in mid-April, for the utility’s 61,100 customers in western Minnesota.
But the commission balked at Otter Tail’s requested 10.9 percent increase on the base rate for all customers. It ordered the company within 10 days to scale back the interim rate, which likely will drop it below 10 percent. The revised interim rate hike is subject to refund if regulators later approve a lower permanent rate hike, a process that will take more than a year.
For residential customers, Otter Tail’s requested permanent rate hike would increase the average customer’s bill by $9.53 per month, or $114 per year, according to a regulatory filing.
The investor-owned utility said the increase will allow it to recover investments in pollution controls on its Big Stone, S.D., coal-fired power plant and in new transmission lines and to cover other, higher costs since its 2009 rate case.