Conservation

At Montana-Dakota Utilities we provide customers with access to incentive plans and conservation tips for more efficient energy use, as well as environmental information.

We take pride at Montana-Dakota in our efforts to be good stewards of the land and its resources. We live and work in the communities we serve and taking care of the environment is important to us. Montana-Dakota has three primary goals in regard to the environment:

  • Minimize waste and maximize resources.
  • Support environmental laws and regulations that are based on sound science and cost-effective technology.
  • Comply with or exceed all applicable environmental laws, regulations and permit requirements.

Montana-Dakota strives to minimize land disturbances while maximizing resource extraction, engage in wildlife protection practices, promote emission reduction and fuel conservation, work with wildlife regulatory agencies, develop water enhancement practices, ensure water quality protection, control and prevent the spread of noxious weeds, promote noise reduction, and implement programs to develop and enhance public spaces in the communities we serve. Some of the ways Montana-Dakota achieves these goals are as follows:

Community

Environmental Community Opportunity (ECO) Fund
Montana-Dakota offers grants through this fund to support projects that enhance environmental education and stewardship. These grants are available to organizations located in communities served by Montana-Dakota through a grant application process. For more details view the ECO Fund brochure.

Environmental Integrity Awards
MDU Resources Group, Inc. (the parent company of Montana-Dakota) offers two environmental integrity awards that recognize a successful employee program, project or activity that reflects the corporation’s environmental policy and philosophy. The awards presented annually are the Award for Reclamation and Habitat Enhancement and the Award for Environmental Stewardship.

Land

PCB Elimination
Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. has a policy of eliminating polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from its electrical system equipment when the equipment is repaired. This policy recently was amended to proactively identify the few remaining pieces of electrical equipment in the company's transmission system that contain PCBs and replace the mineral oil with clean oil by 2010.

Spill Protection
Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. is implementing spill prevention and containment projects at its combustion turbine locations in Miles City, MT, and Glendive, MT. These facilities use diesel as a backup fuel to natural gas for powering electrical generators at the sites and, therefore, have diesel fuel storage tanks on site. While these storage tanks are relatively small and have containment infrastructure in place, the turbines and associated piping are not within the existing containment area. Montana-Dakota is adding containment ditching and catch basins at the sites and is installing alarms that will notify the company's 24-hour dispatch center if a leak occurs when the site is not in operation.

Fly/Bottom Ash Use
As much fly ash as possible from our power plants is re-used for use in ready-mix concrete in the summer and oilfield well casing in the winter. Bottom ash is utilized for stabilization of road beds and cattle feed lots. Reuse of these materials preserves landfill space, conserves natural resources and results in a significant offset in greenhouse gas emissions when used as a cement replacement. For every ton of fly ash used in concrete, it is estimated that this results in the reduction of approximately one ton of carbon dioxide emissions.

Tree Line USA®
The Tree Line USA® program, sponsored by The National Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters, recognizes public and private utilities that demonstrate practices that protect and enhance America's urban forests. For certification, a utility must meet three requirements: quality tree care; annual worker training; and tree planting and education. In 2006, Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., in conjunction with sister companies, donated in excess of $61,000 for tree planting and education throughout Montana-Dakota's service territory. Montana-Dakota is one of 115 certified Tree Line USA® utilities and the only North Dakota-based utility to attain certification. It has maintained annual certification since 2004.

Air

Wind Generation
Montana-Dakota owns and operates three wind farms. Diamond Willow, located near Baker, Montana, is 30 megawatts. The first phase of 19.5 MW came online in late 2007 and an additional 10.5 MW were added in 2010. Cedar Hills, located near Rhame, North Dakota, is 19.5 MW and came online in 2010. Thunder Spirit Wind, located near Hettinger, North Dakota, is 107.5-MW and came online in December 2015.

Mercury Testing
Montana-Dakota is an active sponsor of research on technology that removes mercury from lignite-based electric generation facilities. Montana-Dakota’s Lewis & Clark Station in Sidney, MT, hosted a three-week test in the spring of 2007 to assess a variety of mercury removal products and equipment.

Sulfur Dioxide Reductions
Efforts are under way at Montana-Dakota Utilities Co.'s Heskett Station, an electric generating facility at Mandan, ND, to further reduce emissions. The company is replacing material used in its fluidized bed boiler with limestone, which will further reduce sulfur dioxide emissions.

Carbon Dioxide Reductions
Montana-Dakota is committed to reducing carbon dioxide emission intensity by 3-5% by 2010. The reductions are being realized through utility operation and customer energy efficiency projects, as well as renewable energy projects. Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. has been active in researching options for carbon dioxide capture, sequestration and beneficial uses. The company has been a member of the Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership since its inception. The partnership pools resources to examine potential uses of carbon dioxide within the company's service territory, such as in enhanced oil recovery efforts in depleted oil fields and in enhanced coalbed natural gas recovery, or sequestering the gas in deep depleted oil fields and saline formations or terrestrially in grasslands.

Clean Air Act Compliance
Montana-Dakota Utilities Co.'s areas of operations are all in compliance with all federal Clean Air Act air quality standards. North Dakota and South Dakota are two of only 12 states in the United States that are entirely in attainment of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The counties surrounding the company's Lewis & Clark Station, an electric generating facility at Sidney, MT, also are in attainment of standards.

Voluntary Greenhouse Gas Reductions
Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. has committed, through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Edison Electric Institute and the Department of Energy, to reduce CO2 emission intensity by 3-5% by 2010. Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. has also joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Voluntary SF6 Emission Reduction Program. Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is an inert gas used as an insulator in electrical equipment that has been implicated as a potent greenhouse gas. Montana-Dakota reduced its emissions of SF6 from equipment leaks by 31 percent in 2006.

Water

Spill Protection
Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. is implementing spill prevention and containment projects at its combustion turbine locations in Miles City, MT, and Glendive, MT. These facilities use diesel as a backup fuel to natural gas for powering electrical generators at the sites and, therefore, have diesel fuel storage tanks on site. While these storage tanks are relatively small and have containment infrastructure in place, the turbines and associated piping are not within the existing containment area. Montana-Dakota is adding containment ditching and catch basins at the sites and is installing alarms that will notify the company's 24-hour dispatch center if a leak occurs when the site is not in operation.

Water Use
Montana-Dakota's electric generating facilities utilize water from the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers for normal plant operations.  The water withdrawn from the river is used in the electric generating process then treated and discharged back into the river according to permit requirements.

Wildlife

Raptor Electrocution Prevention
Eagles and other raptors are at risk of electrocution if they come into contact with two energized parts of a power line when using a utility pole as a perch. Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. has implemented an Avian Protection Plan to assess and retrofit power line poles to protect eagles and other raptors from this danger. The company plan was developed with guidance from the Avian Power Line Interaction Committee, an organization made up of utilities, the Edison Electric Institute, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Electric Power Research Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that is dedicated to the protection of avian resources.

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Resources for conserving energy

It's important to look for ways to reduce energy usage around the home. As an ENERGY STAR partner, Montana-Dakota is committed to help you save energy and money.  The following list is provided to help identify ways to conserve and use energy more efficiently.