November 15, 2023 [Inforum]- A natural gas pipeline extension in southeast North Dakota will bring additional supply to agribusinesses at Wahpeton and create an opportunity for farms and grain handling facilities to add natural gas service.
WBI Energy has secured a federal permit to build the pipeline from Mapleton, North Dakota, where it has a natural gas compressor station, about 60 miles south to Wahpeton.
The company plans to start construction in spring 2024 and be operational by the end of 2024, according to Laura Lueder, manager of communications and public relations.
The pipeline will for the first time provide natural gas service to the town of Kindred, North Dakota, and have a distribution station at Wahpeton.
Wahpeton has had natural gas service but not enough capacity to provide uninterrupted service, said Chris DeVries, the community development director for Wahpeton.
“The new pipeline will allow bigger users, more users and will basically guarantee an uninterruptible service,” DeVries said. Those interruptions usually come during winter cold snaps with peak demand for heat.
“Some of our businesses right now have to have breaks where they’re not receiving gas,” he said.
He said one business that will benefit is the Vaderstad farm equipment manufacturer that is expanding just west of Wahpeton.
And it should help recruit new businesses. “We don’t have to worry about telling somebody ‘no’ if they want to come into Wahpeton,” DeVries said.
The Minn-Dak Farmers Co-op has its sugarbeet processing facility at Wahpeton, and Cargill has a corn processing plant there.
While Lueder declined to comment on specific customers, Minn-Dak and Cargill both filed letters of support for the project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which approved the project in October.
Farm taps, housing
The line also provides the opportunity for “farm taps,” where farms or agribusinesses could tap into the line to use natural gas for drying grain or other purposes.
Lueder said the first step for a possible farm tap would be to contact Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., which will provide the distribution.
Adam Spelhaug farms at Kindred and serves on the Kindred City Council. While his farm won’t be close enough to the line to tap into it, he said it will benefit the region.
“They have some opportunities with people that aren’t too far away from the projected line that they could access into it to run their grain dryers and things like that,” Spelhaug said, and at “not too bad of a price.”
Property owners would not have to add a tank like they do for propane or could get rid of the tanks they have now.
It could also benefit housing development in Kindred, with just under 1,000 people, and Wahpeton, with about 8,000 people.
“As we look to expand, there’s going to be less that developers have to worry about, … give them more options,” DeVries said.
The construction of the line will also benefit the area, he said.
“Probably next summer, we’ll start seeing a lot of activity around the area,” he said. “That kind of economic development activity in our area is going to be good as well.”
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