On July 27, 2018, Northern filed a section 7 application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the Northern Lights 2019 Project. The project is composed of two discrete projects, the Northern Lights 2019 Expansion component and the Rochester Expansion component; the two projects will be built at the same time and both projects are contained in the application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The project is docketed at CP18-534-000.
The proposed facilities include, for the Rochester project: (1) construction of 12.24 miles of 16-inch-diameter greenfield branch line; (2) an increase in the maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) of an 8.04-mile segment of the La Crosse branch line; and (3) a new Rochester town border station (TBS).
The Northern Lights 2019 segment of the project will consist of construction of: (1) 10-miles of 24-inch-diameter greenfield pipeline in Hennepin and Wright counties, Minnesota; (2) approximately 9 miles of branch line and mainline loops/extensions, ranging in size from 6-inch- to 36-inch-diameter pipeline, I Morrison, Le Sueur, and Carver counties, Minnesota; (3) additional compression at Northern’s existing Faribault and Owatonna compressor stations in Rice and Steele County, Minnesota, respectively; and (4) a new compressor station located near Carver, Minnesota.
The project is required to meet the growing energy requirements of Northern’s customers serving the state of Minnesota. All facilities, as described in the table, will be located within Minnesota.
The proposed routes, including the greenfield branch lines and the new compressor station site, were selected after analysis of engineering options, route/site options, and Project alternatives with an effort to minimize impacts to the environment and the number of affected landowners. The proposed pipeline loops and extensions will utilize existing pipeline corridors. The proposed site for the Carver, Minnesota, compressor station was selected due to its strategic location on Northern’s existing system.
On November 21, 2018, Commission staff issued its Environmental Assessment for the project. Among other standard conditions, staff also is recommending (1) the proposed 50 foot offset between the proposed and adjacent pipelines be rejected and that Northern Natural Gas install the branch lines with a maximum 25-foot offset from the adjacent pipeline; (2) a noise survey should be filed for the Rochester town border station and for the maximum allowable operating pressure regulator; and (3) prior to conducting night time horizontal directional drill activities, a noise mitigation plan must be filed and approved by the Commission. Comments to the environmental assessment were due December 21, 2018.