Pipeline, border station project underway west of Albert Lea on Freeborn County Road 46

Published 6:23 am Wednesday, August 31, 2022

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Major work is underway off the shoulder of Freeborn County Road 46 west of Albert Lea by Northern Natural Gas and Minnesota Energy Resources. 

The partnership came about as Northern Natural Gas owns the interstate natural gas pipeline in the area.

According to Alison Trouy, spokesperson for Minnesota Energy Resources, the project includes the installation of 3 1/2 miles of steel piping. 

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Northern Natural Gas is constructing a new town border station, which serves as a transfer point where gas moves to an area where the local utility would take over and transport the gas to utilities in businesses in Albert Lea, according to Michael Loeffler, senior director of certificates and external affairs for the company.

Loeffler said three-tenths of a mile of piping will be tied into existing lines.

“A town border station is a custody transfer point where Northern transfers the natural gas to the local distribution company, here, Minnesota Energy Resources,” Loeffler said in an email. “MERC then delivers the gas to the town.”

“This is being done to replace the town border station that we’ll be abandoning, the line that is attached to that TBS … and so this will be the acting town border station once it’s put into service,” he said. 

Construction began in June and is scheduled to continue until the end of October.

Loeffler said the current town border station is connected to the company’s A line, which is its oldest line and was put into service in the 1930s and ’40s.

“We’re dismantling the A line and attaching it to a new line that we are constructing,” he said. “The new line will allow for greater reliability.”  

Loeffler said the old town border station was connected to an A line that will be taken out of service.

“The reason we did that was so that it could be closer to the pipeline that will be feeding it the gas,” he said.

When completed, the new town border station will have the same capacity as three town border stations and will be welded together.

“Once we get that new A line in, we have to build another town border station to connect to that A line,” he said.

According to Trouy, the pipeline will connect three natural gas systems in the area.

The current line is dresser coupled, something he described as an old way of installing pipeline.

Loeffler said so far there had not been any surprises regarding the project, and said the process has been “going smoothly.” 

He said the total cost of the project is $1.8 million, and Trouy added Minnesota Energy Resources customers would not be billed.

“It’s a cost-effective way to improve the reliability of the natural gas that’s being delivered to the town of Albert Lea,” Loeffler said.