PSC approves pipeline for LinksMADISON — Construction of a 14-mile natural gas pipeline that fuels an expansion of Link Snacks, Inc. in Minong received approval Thursday from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.
By: Kevin Murphy/For the Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram
MADISON — Construction of a 14-mile natural gas pipeline that fuels an expansion of Link Snacks, Inc. in Minong received approval Thursday from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.
The snack food maker is in the midst of a $3.5 million expansion of production facilities, during which the company has added more than 100 jobs, bringing its Minong workforce to more than 500 employees.
Adding natural gas will replace 671,000 gallons of propane the firm hauls in annually by truck.
“(N)atural gas is a cleaner fuel source and its use will reduce emissions of harmful greenhouse gases by an estimated 35 percent,” Thomas Meyers, a Link Snacks manager said in statement released earlier this year.
Increased consumer demand for the Link product portfolio has driven the expansion project, said Luke Friedrich, a Link spokesman. The firm also has expanded its Alpena, S.D., plant where it also is extending a natural gas pipeline, he said.
The $2.27 million WE Energies project brings a 6-inch diameter pipeline north from the village of Trego to the south side of the Link property where the firm’s processing ovens are located.
WE Energies initially sought $2.09 million from Link Snacks to build the line but the PSC reduced Link’s contribution to $1.26 million. The reduced contribution won’t affect the project’s timeline, but should it lower Link’s payback period associated with converting to natural gas, said Brian Manthey, a WE Energies spokesman.
Although the pipeline project hasn’t been bid, WE Energies has a May 6 target date to begin construction and wants it completed on Sept. 3, said Manthey.
Permits will be obtained from state and local authorities within next few weeks, he said.
The pipeline’s route lies largely within public road right-of-way and crosses 55 identified wetlands and seven waterways. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has said that constructing the line poses no temporary or permanent impacts, according to the PSC order.
The pipeline is designed to serve Link Snacks but has additional capacity that could potentially serve customers along the route as well as in the village of Minong.
“It’s a nice opportunity for all the people in town to have natural gas which perhaps is cheaper than propane,” said Bill Hallock, Minong’s director of Public Works.
Manthey said the village and the utility have discussed the possible service to village facilities but nothing substantial has developed yet.
Although the pipeline extends through the Washburn County towns of Brooklyn, Gull, Lake and Minong, WE Energies didn’t seek to serve them and the PSC didn’t authorize it, in Thursday’s order.
“We don’t have rights to serve the towns but could potentially serve them in the future,” said Manthey.
In preparation for Link’s expansion, the village of Minong paved and added curb and gutter last fall to the formerly graveled Railroad St., said Hallock. Half of the $354,632 reconstruction was funded a state Department of Transportation grant to accommodate increased employee and truck traffic.
Other preparations included extending a water main along Railroad St. to the Link plant and expanding the wastewater treatment plant.