wartsila-gen-set-copyWay back during the CapX 2020 proceeding, it became clear that Rochester Public Utilities planned to build gas generation just west of town, at the “Westside” site.  But this was downplayed, and ignored by the ALJ, because it would be evidence that CapX 2020 wasn’t “needed.”  And of course demand was way down, which we knew but which was also ignored, and that was one more reason CapX 2020 wasn’t needed.  The Rochester gas generation was delayed.

But recently they announced the new gas pipeline around the city, and now, the gas plant.  Today, from the MPCA:

Intent to Construct Air Emission Permit for Rochester Public Utilities Westside

MPCA requests/expects certain things to be addressed in Comments, “you must state” per the MPCA:

(1) Your interest in the permit application or the draft permit.
(2) The action you wish the MPCA to take, including specific references to the section of the draft permit you believe should be changed.
(3) The reasons supporting your position, stated with sufficient specificity as to allow the MPCA to investigate the merits of the position.

Send Comments to:

Rachel Yucuis
Industrial Division
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
520 Lafayette Rd
St. Paul, MN 55155
Phone: 651-757-2863
Email: rachel.yucuis@state.mn.us


Yesterday was the Scoping Meetings for the Rochester pipeline project, winding around the NW down and around to the SE of town.  There was quite a large turnout at the afternoon session, probably 50 people, but that may have included Commerce staff, etc.

Comments on the Scope (what all should be included) of the environmental review are due by 4:30 p.m. on April 13, 2016:


… or by snail mail:

Larry Hartman, Environmental Review Manager

Minnesota Dept. of Commerce

85 – 7th Place East, Suite 500

St. Paul, MN  55101



I was really surprised to learn that Larry Hartman, the Commerce project manager, did NOT know about the Rochester Public Utilities gas plant proposed at the NW terminal of this project!  And I was also surprised to learn that Northern Natural Gas is running a new gas pipeline into the west side of Rochester, to join with this line at the middle purple blob on the west side of the map.

The RPU plant is not exactly a secret, it was an issue in the 2008 CapX 2020 Certificate of Need hearing:

RPU chooses Boldt to build new $62 million plant

A New Generating Station for Rochester

New Rochester Energy Project Approved

Westside Energy EPC

The RPU studies:


2005 RPU_34945_Report on the Electric Utility Baseline Strategy for 2005 – 2030_June_2005 (CapX 2020 CoN Exhibit 157)

This is old, old news…

As to the proposed Northern Natural Gas line that’ll connect to this Rochester project, which it appears is part of its “Northern Lights 2017 Expansion” project narrative, in press release-based industry puff pieces, but it’s not on the Northern Lights 2017 Expansion project map or described, other than “Rochester 1D TBS rebuild” and “Rochester branch line” in any of the FERC filings or other documents I can find.

What about safety?  The environmental review document needs to address the burn radius, which is large for such a large and high pressure pipeline:

This project is in an area where future development could be, should be, expected, and I sure don’t want to see a scenario like that along the natural gas pipeline along, roughly parallel, to Hwy. 14, where cities have platted developments over the pipeline, and where builders have built homes over the pipeline, and people bought those newly constructed homes with pipelines through their yards, and worse, Minnesota law does not require disclosure for newly constructed homes.

Minn. Stat. 513.54, Subd. 10

Platting new subdivisions over a natural gas transmission pipeline should be criminal… and yet I see another such scenario developing.