BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — For the January 6 KX Conversation, Josh Meny spoke with BNI Coal Production Manager Jon Rudnick.

Lignite Energy Council posted this incredible video on Facebook of BNI Coal continuing operations during December’s Blizzard which brought up to 16+ inches of snow. How important is it for BNI Coal to continue supplying lignite to the Milton R Young Power Station during extreme weather events like that?

“It’s very critical, it’s that’s essentially our core responsibility. The [Milton] Young [Power] Station next door runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So, that’s up to us to make sure we can supply them with adequate amounts of coal to meet their demands, and most importantly, for us to do it safely. And that is truly a testament to our employees. You know, they understand this responsibility, and I believe they take pride in it. And I know they have the determination to do this to kind of follow through on this time and again, and for that, I’m thankful and honestly really pro,” explained BNI Coal Production Manager Jon Rudnik.

Yeah. And your team was working around the clock to keep the roads clear to allow the trucks to continue supplying lignite to the power station. What are some of the other technical challenges that you run up against during this type of hostile weather?

“Really, there’s, there’s a fair amount of planning that goes into these, these events here, it starts with really paying attention to the weather forecasts coming up, we want to get a good handle on the timing and the duration of these events. And then that leads into us going through and determining what are the critical operations we need to run and, you know, for equipment and people and ultimately making sure we know when to make the call to scale back operations or shut them down and really for the safety of our employees. And, we keep you know, active stockpile of coal at the power plant. So we, when we need to scale back and go to the bare minimum, you know, that’s what we can utilize to make sure we meet their demand,” explained Rudnik.

Yeah. And these extreme blizzard events like last December’s storm, elucidate the need for reliable energy when it comes to the overall energy mix. How important is lignite for keeping the lights on and keeping the furnace running?

“I think it’s very critical that we make sure we keep an adequate amount of this clean, reliable energy that these coal generation stations in the state can provide. Really, for just the two reasons you met there, it’s making sure that their produce electricity you need during these critical times, which we know in this region and winter months are those most crucial moments and, for that, I think it’s just it’s a demand that’s needed just for the safety of everyone,” said Rudnik.