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North Dakota doubles energy production in 5 years

In 2007, North Dakota established the EmPower Commission to develop a comprehensive energy policy for the state's diverse and growing energy industry. Sixteen representatives from all of the state's energy industries were elected to the commissio...

In 2007, North Dakota established the EmPower Commission to develop a comprehensive energy policy for the state's diverse and growing energy industry. Sixteen representatives from all of the state's energy industries were elected to the commission and asked to work collectively to develop the state's diverse energy resources in order to meet the energy needs of North Dakota and the nation without government mandates. The commission set a goal to double the state's total energy production by 2025. This summer, the commission announced the state has met that goal -- 13 years ahead of schedule.

"Our group set a goal to double North Dakota's energy production from all sources by 2025 in an environmentally friendly way to drive economic growth and help the nation achieve greater energy independence," says Al Anderson, commissioner of the North Dakota commerce department and EmPower Commission chairman. "That goal is now met, 13 years early, with an overall increase of 154 percent. This is a significant accomplishment for the state of North Dakota."

Considering the accelerated ramping up of oil and gas production in North Dakota since 2007, it comes as no surprise that the state would surpass any energy production goal set pre-boom in record time, but it should be noted that the state's renewable energy producers also experienced significant growth over the past five years, due at least partially to the EmPower Commission's support for renewable energy production incentives and strong energy policies across all sectors for the overall industry growth. According to data gathered from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, renewable energy production in North Dakota, including wind, ethanol, biodiesel and biomass sources, has increased by 225 percent since 2007. Marketed natural gas is up 125 percent while oil production has increased by a whopping 386 percent since 2007. The commission noted in a news release that the state's lignite industry also continues to play a vital role in the state's energy mix, accounting for a $3 billion economic impact.

It is unclear whether the commission will establish a new energy production goal. It is currently focusing on identifying value-added marketing opportunities for energy-related products, concentrating on ethanol and natural gas liquids, and is backing a study to evaluate those options. Results of the study are expected to become available next spring.

Mike Fladeland, manager of business development at the North Dakota Department of Commerce, says the state's growing energy sector and interest in value-added options translates into the potential for a number of new business opportunities throughout the state. "The oil and gas business and other energy resources are going to be around for a long time, but we want to get past the point where we're depending primarily on those raw resources and sending them down the pipeline elsewhere for value to be added," he says. "We want to add that value here."

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