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Northern Natural pipeline system expansion enters FERC prefiling review

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Essential Energy Insights - January 2021


Northern Natural pipeline system expansion enters FERC prefiling review

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission agreed to take an early look at a Northern Natural Gas Co. system expansion project that would increase service to customers in Minnesota.

In an Oct. 16 letter, FERC allowed Northern to enter its Northern Lights 2019/Rochester expansion project into the commission's prefiling process. Northern plans to build the two parts of the project at the same time, and so it would submit a single application to the commission. Northern, a Berkshire Hathaway Energy unit, estimated it will apply by July 15, 2018. It asked FERC to issue a certificate order by January 2019 to meet an in-service date of Nov. 1, 2019.

The project's facilities would allow Northern to meet customer requests made during the Northern Lights 2017 and Northern Lights 2019 open seasons, according Mike Loeffler, director of certificates and external affairs. An open season for the Northern Lights 2019 project concluded in September 2017. Northern is analyzing the results to determine the final scope of the project.

According to the company, the Northern Lights 2019 expansion project would include 10.2 miles of 24-inch-diameter greenfield pipeline; 16.6 miles of branch line and mainline loops ranging in size from 6-inch-diameter to 36-inch-diameter pipeline; new compression at Northern's existing Faribault compressor station in Rice County, Minn., and Owatonna compressor station in Steele County, Minn.; and a new compressor station in Carver County, Minn. With the exception of part of a 4-mile, 36-inch-diameter extension of the Ventura North E-line running through Worth County, Iowa, the project would be constructed and operated entirely in Minnesota.

The Rochester expansion would include 12 miles of 16-inch-diameter greenfield branch line in Olmsted County, Minn., an increase in the maximum allowable operating pressure of 8 miles of the La Crosse branch line in Freeborn and Mower counties in Minnesota, and a new town border station in Olmsted County.

"The proposed routes ... were selected after analysis of engineering options, route/size options, and project alternatives with an effort to minimize impact to the environment and affected landowners," the prefiling said. "The proposed pipeline loops and extensions will utilize existing pipeline corridors." (FERC docket PF18-1)