The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorized WBI Energy Transmission Inc. to go ahead with its proposed Valley Expansion natural gas transportation project in Minnesota and North Dakota that would serve an affiliated utility and an ethanol plant.
FERC approved the expansion project in a Feb. 15 order that was part of the agenda of the commission's monthly public meeting. WBI Energy applied for the project in April 2017.
The project is designed to provide about 40 MMcf/d of bidirectional, firm gas transportation service between an interconnection with Viking Gas Transmission Co. and the proposed Mapleton compressor station. After an open season in 2016, MDU Resources Group Inc.'s Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. signed up for 30 MMcf/d and Tharaldson Ethanol Plant I, LLC signed up for 3.35 MMcf/d in 10-year binding precedent agreements. WBI Energy is part of MDU Resources. Tharaldson operates an ethanol plant near Casselton, N.D.
Montana-Dakota and Tharaldson filed comments supporting the project. A landowner opposed it because of concerns about effects on water drainage on his land, but FERC said the concerns were addressed in the September 2017 environmental assessment.
The project facilities include the Mapleton compressor station, which is a new, 3,000-horsepower facility in Cass County, N.D., and a new bidirectional 37-mile, 16-inch-diameter gas pipeline between the Viking system and the compressor station. WBI Energy estimated that the project will cost $57.3 million.
The order required WBI Energy to adopt a variation, even though it slightly increases the length of the pipeline, because of environmental benefits. The order also granted the company's request to establish its proposed incremental recourse reservation charge and its existing system commodity charge as the initial recourse rates. (FERC docket CP17-257)