Minnesota Energy Resources has provided a variety of natural gas services to farm tap customers through an agreement with Northern Natural Gas for many years. Services provided include billing, customer service, responses to leak calls, odorizer maintenance, delivery pressure verification, and consultation on the installation and repair of customer-owned facilities.
Minnesota Energy Resources follows service line safety standards, maintains records and pipeline location data, and can access all company-owned mains and service lines. The company cannot monitor or access customer-owned farm tap lines in this way. This can create safety issues for customers, our employees and the general public when we cannot provide line locations, perform leak surveys or identify obsolete natural gas lines.
To resolve some of these issues, Minnesota Energy Resources has researched potential alternatives and filed a proposal with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) aimed at lessening the safety risks associated with continued service to farm tap customers. Minnesota Energy Resources has proposed to recover the costs of its proposal from all current customers through a Gas Utility Infrastructure Cost Rider surcharge. The MPUC has evaluated and approved Minnesota Energy Resources’ proposal.
Approved proposal highlights
Customer-owned farm tap lines are not subject to the same oversight as gas mains and service lines owned by Minnesota Energy Resources. In an effort to increase safety and reliability of farm tap lines, we have been authorized by the MPUC to:
- Install new gas mains and service lines from our existing distribution system to existing farm tap customers located within one mile of our current system.
- Help ensure customer safety. If a leak is detected on a farm tap or customer-fueled line, it will be disconnected until proper repairs are made.
- Enhance customer safety education.
- Discontinue processing new requests for farm taps.
Farm tap customers will have the choice to discontinue natural gas service and have their energy needs met by alternative energy fuel providers rather than having their line replaced.
There will be five public meetings; in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, these meetings will be held virtually. Any Minnesota Energy Resources customer or other person may attend or provide comments at the meetings. You are invited to comment on Minnesota Energy Resources’ approved proposal, alternatives to the approved proposal, rate impacts of the approved proposal, or other related matters. You do not need to be represented by an attorney.
Cost of proposal and recovery of costs:
While the actual rate impacts to customers will depend on the total project costs and final decisions regarding allocation and recovery of those costs, Minnesota Energy Resources has projected rate impacts to customers as follows based on average customer usage for each customer class.
||Proposed per therm charge
||Average annual therm usage per customer
||Average annual cost of proposed farm tap project
|Class 1 & 2 Firm (Sales and Transport)
|Class 1 & 2 Interruptible (Sales and Transport)
Class 1 & 2 Grain Dryer
Class 1 Electric Generation
|Class 3 & 4 Firm (Sales and Transport)
|Class 3 & 4 Interruptible (Sales and Transport)
Class 3 & 4 Grain Dryer
|Class 5 (Sales and Transport)
Class 2 Electric Generation
What is a farm tap?
Farm tap customers receive natural gas from a Northern Natural Gas transmission pipeline that runs on or near their property. Minnesota Energy Resources does not own this transmission pipeline or the natural gas line serving the property.
How is this different from other customers of Minnesota Energy Resources?
Typically, Minnesota Energy Resources owns and maintains the distribution mains and service lines from the town border station to the customer meter. In the case of a farm tap customer, the customer owns and is responsible for the maintenance of their customer-owned fuel lines.
What are the safety concerns with the current situation?
The majority of customer-owned natural gas lines were installed many years ago. Their condition and location are often unknown.
What services does Minnesota Energy Resources currently provide to farm tap customers?
Billing, customer service, responses to leak calls, odorizer maintenance, delivery pressure tests, and consultation on the installation and repair of customer-owned facilities.
What will change for farm tap customers?
Under the MPUC approved proposal, all farm tap customers located within one mile of our current system will have the option to have their fuel lines replaced with Minnesota Energy Resources-owned mains and service lines. All other farm tap customers will remain as is. Enhanced customer safety education will be provided to these customers.
Learn more about farm tap safety.
Why is the MPUC involved?
The MPUC is the state of Minnesota regulatory body that has authority over Minnesota investor-owned utilities. A Minnesota investor-owned utility must have MPUC approval before the company can move forward with a proposal such as this.
What are current farm tap customer responsibilities?
- Currently, farm tap customers are responsible for the safety and condition of the natural gas line running from the meter to structures as well as any costs associated with the natural gas lost from a natural gas line leak.
- Farm tap customers are required to know the location and condition of their natural gas line and regularly read their own meter.
- Farm tap customers are required to have a qualified professional periodically inspect their lines for leaks. If a leak is discovered, depending on its location, a qualified contractor or the farm tap customer’s local utility must make the repairs.
How will I benefit under the new proposal?
This MPUC approved proposal enhances the safety for you, your property, our employees and the public. In some cases, the farm tap customer will no longer have the responsibility of maintaining their own natural gas line.
Additional benefits include the following:
- All utility-owned pipelines will be locatable and added in the Gopher State One Call notification system to avoid accidental hits.
- Some natural gas lines will be replaced, ensuring that they meet all safety and reliability standards.
- Farm tap customers will continue to be eligible to participate in the Minnesota Energy Resources customer programs such as energy efficiency rebates.
Provide comments on the approved proposal:
We welcome your questions and comments on this MPUC approved proposal.
You can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-322-8989.
Submit written comments
Visit mn.gov/puc and select Get Involved to see how to submit public comments. Reference docket number 17-409 with your comment submission.
Email comments to email@example.com.
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
121 7th Place East, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55101
If you need assistance in submitting a written comment, contact the Consumer Affairs Office, 651-296-0406, 1-800-657-3782.
Important: Comments are available to the public on the MPUC’s website, except in limited circumstances consistent with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. The MPUC does not edit or delete personally identifying information from submissions.