Hundreds of Basin Electric Power employees taking buyouts
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — More than 300 Basin Electric Power Cooperative employees are taking buyouts as the North Dakota-based utility tries to cut costs amid a plummeting financial outlook.
Spokesman Curt Pearson told The Bismarck Tribune that Basin’s latest financial forecast predicts a decade of losses at subsidiary Dakota Gasification Co., which operates the Great Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah. Pearson declined to disclose the total predicted losses.
“The things we’ve done to date have not been quite enough,” Pearson said. “Markets have been changing so fast it was time to take additional steps.”
Dakota Gasification has endured several years of losses as it struggles to compete with cheap natural gas made available by hydraulic fracturing in the Bakken oil field. The plant has had more than $212 million in net losses over the past three years, according to the cooperative’s annual reports.
Utility rate increases have helped keep the co-op financially afloat, but Pearson said that isn’t expected to last.
The majority of co-op employees taking buyouts are from North Dakota, though some are from South Dakota and Wyoming.
Management has accepted all those who’ve applied for the buyout, Pearson said, adding that officials will take the next month to determine if additional cuts are needed.
A hiring freeze that was instituted three years ago will also continue. Basin has also laid off about 30 probationary employees.
Basin Electric employs about 2,000 people and serves rural electric systems in nine states.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com