Lignite Energy Council published a feature on Leland Olds Station Jan. 27. James Backus, the coal-based power plant’s manager, was interviewed for a video as well. Following is an excerpt of the article.
The Leland Olds Station can trace its roots back to the early 1960s when rural America was starving for electricity. Available electricity from dams on the Missouri River had been swallowed up by the farmers who found that power made their farm chores – such as milking cows and irrigating crops – faster and easier.
In fact, the rural electric cooperatives adopted a mascot – Willie Wiredhand – a cartoon man with legs made out of an electric plug – and whose attributes included “showing up on time, working for pennies a day, and taking over the milking, grain handling, water pumping and other chores … and he didn’t talk back to the boss.”
To supplement the electricity generated by the dams, generation and transmission cooperatives – including Basin Electric Power Cooperative – were created to generate the same baseload electricity as dams, but from coal.
Basin Electric’s first lignite-based power plant was the Leland Olds Station built along the shores of the Missouri River near Stanton, ND. Completed in 1966, the first unit of the plant generated 216 megawatts of electricity – about one-third the capacity of the massive Garrison Dam just up the river from Stanton. A second unit was added in 1971 with a capacity of 440 megawatts. Together, the Leland Olds Station has a capacity of 616 megawatts, which is more than the Garrison Dam’s output of 583 megawatts. One megawatt is enough power to serve about 800 customers.