Regulators OK South Dakota’s first pipeline that will carry renewable natural gas

Capitol News Bureau
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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A dairy farm near Parker could become South Dakota’s first supplier of renewable natural gas.

NorthWestern Energy received approval from state regulators Wednesday for a special contract with BrightMark Full Circle RNG.

NorthWestern plans eight miles of pipeline to reach the site. BrightMark will own the compressor.

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission voted 3-0 to allow the contract.

“This is a tremendous investment,” commissioner Gary Hanson said.

The dairy is five miles south and one mile west of Parker.

“This is an additional revenue source for agricultural producers,” commission chairman Chris Nelson said.

He described the project as “the tip of the spear” in the renewable natural-gas world.

“Certainly happy to support this effort,” Nelson added.

In other action Wednesday related to natural gas, the commission agreed to let Xcel Energy continue offering rebates for its electricity customers in South Dakota.

That included a 2-1 vote to let the company continuing offering a rebate for customers who put in electric water heaters. One customer used it in 2020.

Nelson tried to remove the water-heater rebate because, in his words, Xcel was admittedly trying to “grab market share” from natural-gas providers.

Hanson saw nothing wrong with that: “I support competition with natural gas right now.”

The commission recently warned South Dakotans that prices for natural gas would be high for at least a while

Nelson responded, “We have nothing against competition.” But, he continued, “I just can’t support subsidizing competition.”

Commissioner Kristie Fiegen voted against Nelson’s amendment but didn’t comment.

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