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In North Dakota’s Bakken oilfield, demand for electricity has skyrocketed – unlike much of the rest of country, where demand been flat since the recession. Dale Haugen has seen this first hand as general manager of the Mountrail Williams Electric Cooperative, which serves the heart of the Bakken. In the early 2000s, things were pretty grim at the coop’s offices, and in Western North Dakota, in general.
“We were continually losing farms and businesses,” Haugen said. “You’d go to church and you’d see people sit next to you and you’d go, ‘tomorrow I’ve got to lay them off.’ That’s tough.”
Then in 2005, everything changed. An oil company called EOG Resources drilled the first successful oil well into the Bakken shale formation just outside the tiny town of Parshall, right in Haugen’s service area. Soon, dozens of oil companies were following EOG’s lead, drilling long horizontal wells and fracking them to crack the rock and release oil. Continue reading…