Minnesota Energy Resources is upgrading the natural gas infrastructure in the Rochester area by installing approximately 13 miles of natural gas distribution pipeline around the south and west sides of Rochester. The project allows us to ensure the continued delivery of safe and reliable natural gas service and to meet the future needs of the growing Rochester area. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) approved the project on May 5, 2017. Construction on the project will begin in summer 2017 and continue through 2022.

Timeline

In the fall of 2015, we filed two applications with the MPUC:

  • Docket No. G011/M-15-895 — Rate filing
    This application requested a determination that our proposed Rochester project investments are prudent, reasonable and necessary to provide natural gas service in and around Rochester, and that the costs of those investments should be recovered from all of Minnesota Energy Resources' customers.
  • Docket No. G011/GP-15-858 — Route permit filing
    This application requested a route permit for the construction of the proposed
    13.1-mile high-pressure distribution pipeline to tie together the northern and southern portions of our existing distribution system in Rochester to ensure adequate and reliable natural gas service in and around the Rochester area.

On May 5, 2017 the MPUC approved the project and issued a route permit for construction of a large natural gas pipeline. This permit granted us permission to begin construction.

Construction process

We are committed to working with impacted property owners through the route permitting and construction process.

Now that that MPUC has issued a Route Permit for the this project, we will work with property owners to obtain easements to construct and maintain the natural gas pipeline and/or related facilities.

An easement gives us land rights to use a defined part of a property for a specific purpose such as the installation, maintenance and inspection of natural gas laterals and/or related facilities.

Our route permit allows us a 500-foot width to work with individual landowners to site the final location of the pipeline. Once the actual location is determined, a 50-foot permanent easement and a 50-foot temporary easement will be negotiated. The temporary easement will be necessary for construction activities. The area contained within these easements is referred to as the “right-of-way.”

After we have obtained easements, we will initiate the construction process for the Project. The construction process begins by surveying the route and marking the right of way. The right of way is cleared of brush, trees, large rocks and other obstructions. The right of way is then graded to create a surface suitable for construction work.

Next, a trench is dug. Typically, the pipe is buried 4.5 feet below the surface in accordance with Olmsted County Zoning Ordinance and Minnesota statutes. A depth of 5 feet will be used for all state highway crossings, as required by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The pipe always meets the depth of cover dictated by federal and state regulatory standards.

After trenching, sections of pipe are laid along the right-of-way and welded together. The pipe is welded by professional welders. The welds will be visually inspected, X-rayed and then wrapped to protect against corrosion prior to the pipe being lowered into the trench.

After the pipe is laid, the trench is backfilled. The natural gas pipeline is then pressure-tested to validate its strength and integrity.

Finally, the construction area is restored. Crews re¬seed affected land as appropriate, in coordination with affected landowners, so that any signs of construction are quickly replaced by new growth.

In addition to the pipeline construction, the project will require expansion of an existing town border station (TBS 1D) and the construction of a new town border station and district regulator station. A town border station serves as the connection between an interstate natural gas pipeline and our distribution pipeline. A district regulator station serves to reduce the pressure from the high-pressure distribution natural gas pipeline to standard distribution pressure (60-100 psig) for delivery to our customers.

For more information

If you have questions about the project, please contact Amber Lee, Manager of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs, at 651-322-8965 or ASLee@minnesotaenergyresources.com.


WEC Energy Group