BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — The Great Plains Empower Energy Conference finally returned for its 14th annual conference after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19.

Over 200 attendees gathered at the Bismarck State College National Energy Center of Excellence on Monday.

“The congressional delegation was all here, the governor’s office was here,” said Bruce Emmil, Dean of Energy Center at BSC. “So, it was a great turnout. Experts from across the nation are here. So it’s a great conference.”

The conference had a broad list of panels to discuss a range of topics such as carbon capture and what local energy companies are doing.

North Dakota produces electricity from a wide variety of sources, including coal, hydroelectric turbines, and natural gas. This conference was a chance to spread the word about how powerful North Dakota is in the power market.

“Diversity in power generation is key,” said Jason Audette, Market Manager for KLJ Engineering. “I know we are a wind state and a coal state. And those two identities need to come together sometimes and co-habitat in the state.”

According to the North Dakota Energy Annual report, the state has more than 2,200 wind turbines. It’s also ranked 7th for installed wind capacity, getting 31% of its net electricity generation from wind resources.

On the coal side, North Dakota’s power plants have invested around $2 billion in technology to reduce emissions and increase efficiencies. The state is currently one of 17 states that meet all of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s federal ambient air quality standards.

“We need to focus on how we can come together as a power industry,” said Audette. “How we transmit that power and really educating the public with similar types of communications. We make sure we are speaking the exact same language when we take with the public.”

One thing that was noted at the conference was how much support power companies received from congressional districts.

“They are very well aware of the diversity North Dakota provides the power market not just regional but a global market and I think that’s what really shocked me, the awareness of how we can be effective here in North Dakota and in the world market,” said Audette.

BSC officials say this conference is a great way for people on all levels to get together and hear about the new technologies and opportunities the power industry has to offer.