Talen Energy informed the four owners of coal-fired power plants 3 & 4 at Colstrip that they plan to leave as operator in May 2018. Talen is a part owner of the plants, as is five utilities. Owners of the plants, which includes NorthWestern Energy, will be looking for a replacement operator, although the future of the plants remain uncertain, due to implementation of the federal Clean Power Plan and the decision of some of the owners in Washington state to close plants 1 and 2.
North Dakota’s federal delegation joined FBI Director James Comey in dedicating a new FBI Resident Agency office in Williston, on June 6. The event highlighted the first new FBI resident agency to open in more than 30 years.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that farmers and ranchers filing crop acreage reports with the Farm Service Agency and participating insurance providers approved by the Risk Management Agency now can provide the common information from their acreage reports at one office and the information will be electronically shared with the other location. This new process is part of the USDA Acreage Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative.
Addie Lordemann, a 2011 graduate of Montana State University’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in the College of Engineering, was recently recognized by the Manufacturing Institute of the National Association of Manufacturers as one of the top women in the field exemplifying leadership. The 2016 STEP Ahead Emerging Leaders Award identifies the top women in manufacturing in the country under the age of 30 and encourages them to mentor the next generation of female talent. STEP stands for science, technology, engineering and production. Lordemann is a Glendive native. Before she had her Montana State diploma in hand, Lordemann lined up a job with manufacturing company 3M as a project engineer in the Advanced Materials Division. Lordemann designed a cooling system upgrade for a 3M plant in Alabama that now generates an additional $7 million dollars a year for the company by increasing throughput. In total, she’s managed more than $20 million in capital projects to successful completion during her four-and-a-half years with 3M.
Montana State University-Northern has appointed Dr. Larry Strizich as the permanent Dean of the College of Technical Sciences at MSU-Northern. Strizich has served as Interim Dean of COTS since September 2014, when former Dean Greg Kegel became the Chancellor at MSU-Northern; prior to that, Larry had been the Chair of the College of Technical Sciences since September 2004.
The U.S. Census Bureau recently released 2015 city population estimates. The growth rates for North Dakota’s ten largest cities ranged from +9.8 percent for Williston to -0.4 percent for Jamestown. The five largest-growing North Dakota cities were Watford City (+2,505), Fargo (+2,419), Williston (+2,416), Bismarck (+2,210), and West Fargo (+1,846).
Spectrum Aquatics, Missoula, has launched a brand new ADA pool lift, the Motion Trek BP 400 Lift. This new lift has been designed and built with the user in mind. “Over the last two years our key customers and designers plus the majority of aquatic consultants have informed us that an ADA 400 lbs lift is a necessary requirement for certain facilities with specific needs,” said Nabil Khaled, Spectrum Aquatics Vice President Sales, Marketing and Customer Service. The Motion Trek BP 400 will give design firms an ideal option in lift capability that meets the needs for the majority of public pools and government recreational facilities.

The US Census Bureau has released its 2015 estimates of the number of housing units for the nation, states and counties. These estimates show that Texas gained more housing units than any other state between July 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015 (adding 162,000), with North Dakota experiencing the fastest rate of growth in the number of units (3.5 percent). Among counties with at least 2,000 housing units, McKenzie, N.D., added units at the fastest rate over the period, as the number rose 55.9 percent (from 3,760 to 5,862).
While some analysts are scratching their heads that the decline in the Bakken hasn’t been as deep as they would have anticipated given the dramatic drop in oil prices, North Dakota’s director of the Department of Mineral Resources, has an idea about why. The drilling slowdown has allowed gathering and processing infrastructure to catch up in the Bakken, while producers developed new efficiencies which sustained many companies. “The gathering and processing folks have been able to focus their crews on a smaller area and that’s been helpful,” Helms said. It is easier and more economical to concentrate on 3,000 square miles, compared to the full 15,000-square-mile Bakken/Three Forks plays. The break-even price on oil has dropped dramatically. From the industry’s standpoint, the good news amid the downturn and its negative fallout has been the ability to develop what Helms thinks are significant and long-lasting efficiencies. “The companies that survive and take advantage of the upside when prices start to go back up will be smaller, faster and stronger,” Helms said. “… some of the things that [operators] learned in the process of surviving and cutting costs have actually made the wells better.” That is why producers are touting the Bakken at above $60/bbl as the best place to invest, he said.
A steady birthrate in the oil patch of North Dakota despite a decline in oil prices and business activity is indicating that newcomers to the area have been primarily young families and they tend to be staying, even with the slowdown in the oil business. An OBGYN from Dickinson, ND, Dr. Tom Arnold, said, “I think Dickinson is a great place to live and I think these people that have come from elsewhere have realized that and decided to make Dickinson their home and are staying here.”
US private employers added 173,000 jobs last month, below expectations, according to the ADP National Employment Report. Economists were forecasting “a gain of 175,000 jobs, with estimates ranging from 105,000 to 200,000.” The Labor Department revised upward the gains in private payroll it reported for April, from 156,000 to 166,000.

Market Update

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