At its Jan. 14 meeting, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is due to look at questions like whether a November 2015 route permit application for a new gas pipeline is substantially complete and what form of environmental review is appropriate for the project.
On Nov. 3 2015, Minnesota Energy Resources Corp. (MERC) filed an application for a route permit to construct 13.1 miles of new high pressure natural gas distribution pipeline and associated facilities in and around the city of Rochester. The Rochester Natural Gas Pipeline Project is designed to expand the capacity of MERC’s natural gas distribution system in order to enable MERC to meet the projected increase in demand from its existing Rochester area customers, as well as from new customers who will be added to MERC’s system resulting from the development of the Mayo Clinic as a Destination Medical Center.
Commission staff noted in a Jan. 7 briefing memo that the project will be implemented in two phases.
- Phase 1 will connect MERC’s existing Town Border Station (TBS) 1D in northwest Rochester to a proposed new station (Proposed TBS) in west Rochester.
- Phase 2 of the project will connect the Proposed TBS to a proposed new District Regulator Station (Proposed DRS) which will be located in the vicinity of MERC’s existing TBS 1B in southeast Rochester.
Phase 1 of the project includes the installation of 5.1 miles of 16-inch pipe with an operating pressure of 400-475 pounds per square inch gauge (psig). Phase 2 of the project includes the installation of 8.0 miles of 12-inch pipe with an operating pressure of 250-275 psig. Both types of pipeline will be constructed with a maximum allowable operating pressure of 500 psig. Associated facilities to be constructed with the project include the Proposed TBS, TBS 1D expansion, and the Proposed DRS. Additional associated facilities include valves and flanges, cathodic protections, alternating current mitigation, and a gas odorizing system.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be $44 million. MERC has submitted a petition to the commission for out-of-rate cost recovery of a portion of the project. The expected in-service date is 2019 for Phase 1 and 2022 for Phase 2.