BISMARCK — A new study commissioned by North Dakota officials predicts the state's electric consumption will grow by as much as 71% over the next two decades thanks largely to expanding oil and gas activity.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission reviewed the Barr Engineering Co. study during its meeting Tuesday, May 28. The commission, chaired by Gov. Doug Burgum, oversees the North Dakota Transmission Authority, which commissioned the forecast.

The forecast estimated that electric consumption would increase by between 44% and 71% by 2038, reaching as high as 18,000 gigawatt-hours annually.

The forecast also predicted that the state will need between 670 and 1,000 megawatts of new generating capacity in the next 20 years to meet the growing demands. North Dakota currently has a baseload generating capacity of 4,390 megawatts, but that doesn't include a coal-fired power plant that's scheduled to close in 2021.

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