31 Years of Energy Trail Tours
NIPCO partnered with its member cooperatives to educate member-owners on cooperative history and power.
For many years, member-owners traveled, round-trip, to Oahe Powerhouse and Dam in a single day. By 1987, it evolved into the three-day excursion that it is today, which continues on to Beulah, North Dakota, in the heart of North Dakota’s Energy Trail. Basin Electric Power Cooperative, who provides 80 percent of NIPCO’s power supply, owns many generation facilities and energy-related subsidiaries in this region.
Over 100 co-op members, representing distribution and municipal electric cooperatives from NIPCO and neighboring Corn Belt Power Cooperative in Humboldt, had the opportunity to meet some of the people responsible for providing the power that is delivered to their homes, farms, and businesses. The two tours held this summer, demonstrated, first-hand, the value of an electric generation portfolio that includes coal as a part of America’s energy mix. Three days of experiencing the passion, innovation, and dedication of their power providers helped to educate members about electric generation in a carbon-constrained world.
The 2018 tours showcased generation facilities that included hydropower at the Oahe Powerhouse as well as coal-fired generation at Antelope Valley Station in Beulah, North Dakota. At Dakota Gasification Company, located adjacent to Antelope Valley Station, tour participants learned about coal gasification and the many co-products manufactured through this process.
A short trip just up the road to Coteau Properties’ Freedom Mine allowed members to see the mining process of the area’s lignite coal. Mining has brought new prosperity to this region while preserving the environment through careful land reclamation efforts that return mined land to its original purpose. In many cases, reclaimed land is as productive, or better, than before it was mined.
Energy Trail Tour participants also learn about wind generation and the importance of renewable energy resources in America’s overall energy mix.
Over the course of three days, members learned about rural electric cooperative history, gained a new understanding and pride in cooperative ownership, and engaged with other fellow member-owners.