Out with the old (oil) and in with the new (wind)

Two interesting stories in the news today about energy, both in Minnesota.

First, Minnesota residents want Enbridge to remove its old pipeline. Enbridge says it is better to keep it in place. (This would all be contingent on the replacement of the pipeline.)

From MPR:

…a growing chorus of landowners and tribal groups is calling for Enbridge to remove the old pipeline if the new one gets the OK. They’re concerned about potential pollution from the old pipe, that it could become buoyant and pop out of the ground or that it could potentially act as a water conduit underground.

“When you’re done with something, clean it up. It’s that simple,” said Richard Shustarich, 77, who lives along the current Line 3 route just outside Grand Rapids, Minn….

[Shustarich] had no problem signing an easement to give Enbridge permission to add another line in 2010. He said they’re a safer way to transport oil than trains.

“I figured that was a smart way to do it,” he said. “But I hadn’t thought that Enbridge would disrespect the people who allowed them to go on their property, you know, for a few thousand bucks.”

This parallels the concern many have about copper sulfide mining to the east of this area in Minnesota. Mining companies, petroleum companies, energy and mining companies in generally, typically talk the talk before they build a project, but later on, fail to walk the walk, leaving the environment, communities, everything and every one, in the lurch.

Enbridge has an argument that we are better off leaving it in place because removing it could be tricky, there are so many pipes in the ground, crossing each other, in this area. Clearly, the state should have gotten assurances when the line was put in, in the form of a removal fund, originally.

Meanwhile, in the Southwestern part of the state,

“Basically, they’re paying me to let the wind blow,” [Minnesota farm owner Conrad] Schardin [said].

Today, Schardin is … reaping the benefits of wind turbines on his land and on the surrounding farms. But just like other Minnesota farmers, he still grows corn and soybeans. The wind turbines, Schardin recently told the Independent, is just one of his “revenue streams.” But the turbines also play well with his philosophy when it comes to farming.

“Mother Nature, she always wins. You can’t fight her. I have always said that,” Schardin said. And when it comes to wind in southwest Minnesota, there’s no sense in fighting it. So Schardin decided to work with the wind.

“A group of farmers and businessmen — we started Community Wind North. There is a group of seven of us and we put up a 30 megawatt wind project up in Verdi Township. I’m on the Verdi Township board and we put up 12 turbines up in Verdi Township here,” Schardin said.

Schardin said the 30 mega watt wind turbine project cost about $58 million to put up. He said Community Wind North received financial help from an equity partner.

“We got three turbines on land we own,” he said. “We leased the land from other local farmers. We started out with 150 investors and we lost some over deaths over the years. It’s been a good project for the investors and you know they got a good return on their investment. So far it’s been a good deal. It was a risky thing to do.”

Schardin said Community Wind North is now working with its third partner.

“It seems like the people who are against it either don’t have one, or have a turbine close to them and not getting the benefits of it. I know Sioux Falls, Lincoln County and South Dakota, they fought it, and they had a lot of false information.”

It is an interesting story, go read the rest here.

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2 thoughts on “Out with the old (oil) and in with the new (wind)

  1. “no problem signing an easement to give Enbridge permission to add another line in 2010. ”

    2010?

    It’s good to keep a close eye on Enbridge. We’re still dealing with the spill from one of their lines a few years ago. Their alert system that the line was leaking didn’t work. They delayed cleaning up several times, and the Kalamazoo River still isn’t right.

    The line that runs under the straights of Mackinac is also in the news. A recent report from Enbridge to the state about the condition of the line (after they conducted an inspection) was pretty quickly shown to contain a good amount of false information: inspections and photos from an independent group contradicted several points the “official” version included. Enbridge officials released a revised report that agreed with the second version.

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