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North Dakota’s lignite industry contributes to BSC’s National Energy Center


To date, energy companies involved in the North Dakota lignite industry have contributed $3.75 million to Bismarck State College’s National Energy Technology Training and Education Center, which will house five energy programs.

The Center will be part of BSC’s new Career and Technology Institute. Estimated to cost $15 million once completed, the Institute will be built on the southern edge of the college campus overlooking the Missouri River. The first construction phase began this summer with completion of the building expected in December 2007.

The state’s lignite industry and BSC have a relationship that goes back to 1976 when the college established its power plant technology program to train workers for the power plants. At the time, the state had four power plants with three of the largest yet to be built. In 1982, the college added another energy program – process plant technology – to train workers for the Dakota Gasification Plant, which turns lignite to a synthetic natural gas.

“Clearly the lignite industry recognizes the need for the project and has stepped forward with generous contributions,” said Gordy Binek, BSC vice president for college advancement and federal relations. “The industry support has been vital to the success of the campaign. In turn, our energy programs have helped the industry by preparing students to go from the classroom right into the plants.”

Companies from the lignite industry that have made financial donations are Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Great River Energy, the North American Coal Corporation, BNI Coal, Minnesota Power, MDU Resources Group, Inc. and Westmoreland Coal Company. The Lignite Energy Council, which is a trade organization representing the industry, has also contributed to the building project.

“Over the past 30 years, the energy programs at Bismarck State College have provided training that has helped not only North Dakota’s energy industry but also utilities and energy companies throughout the United States,” said John Dwyer, president of the Lignite Energy Council. “Industry is looking to BSC to provide a trained workforce to address the retirement bubble we face over the next decade.”

BSC has industry partnerships with 26 of the largest energy companies in the United States, including all the utilities involved in North Dakota’s lignite industry.  The college’s three new online programs for the energy industry were developed largely through partnerships with utilities and energy associations across the United States. They are electric power technology, electrical transmission systems technology and nuclear power technology. The power plant technology and process plant technology programs are offered on campus and online.

The National Energy Technology Training and Education Center, the linchpin of the 70,000 square-foot facility, will have state-of-the-art presentation facilities, Internet connectivity, and enhanced labs for students. BSC energy technology faculty members envision it as a desirable setting for interaction between industry, vendors and educators.


1016 E. Owens Avenue, PO Box 2277, Bismarck, ND 58502 i (701) 258-7117 or 1-800-932-7117 i Fax: (701) 258-2755