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    Pre-construction meeting held on LNG facility


    November 22, 2021 - Ed Zagorski edz@wdtimes.com

     

      IXONIA - The nearly 25 people who attended We Energies' pre-construction meeting of its liquid natural gas storage facility wanted to hear more of the company's safety protocols Wednesday night in Ixonia. They did receive some assurances.

      We Energies Project Manager Rick O'Conor said once the $185 million LNG storage facility passed muster with the Town of Ixonia and Jefferson County it went before the PSC, who placed a condition on the utility company to hold a pre-construction meeting 45 days before construction is to begin.

      He said the safety meeting will be coordinated by Jefferson County and should happen in the coming weeks.

      O'Conor said tank construction is scheduled to begin in January 2022 followed by tank construction. He said the building construction will begin next summer before the tank construction is complete. O'Conor said commissioning of the structure is slated for fall 2023.

      He said the core project work hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. He said typical delivery hours are 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

      We Energies Senior Project Manager Brad Smith said as for crews coming to the work site there will be signage provided in front of the facility off North Road. He said a turn-off lane will be installed on North Road to facilitate deliveries.

      Smith also said devices will be installed at the the job sites to remove rocks, dirt and debris from truck tires. There will also be a street sweeper provided to keep North Road clean.

      O'Conor said We Energies purchased 165 acres, but are only building on 25 acres.

      The We Energies facility in Ixonia will include a 15-story, 150-foot-diameter tank to store 12 million gallons of LNG. The plant will also have equipment to process vaporized natural gas into a liquid and back again, a section of pipeline connecting to a main natural gas pipeline, plus an electric substation.

      We Energies said the purpose of the proposed facility is to store natural gas until it is needed, at which time it would be put back into the pipeline.

      Smith said the general project sequence will begin with the installation of stormwater, erosion and sediment control measures with grading of the site's construction access and roadways. Crews will then install temporary construction and laydown areas, which are spaces of ground or pavement near a construction site for the receipt, storage and partial assembly of the project equipment.

      Smith said the installation of the LNG tank foundation and impoundment will begin followed by LNG tank construction and then the installation of the plant's foundations.

      Smith said the conclusion of the construction includes erecting the buildings, completing the plant's mechanical and electrical construction and site restoration.

      It will be located northeast of Hill and North roads and might be operational by late 2023.

      When someone asked what is the life expectancy of LNG tanks, Smith said similar tanks, which were built in the 1930s, are still operational today.

      O'Conor added there will be truck unloading equipment built into the facility's site, but We Energies will not be trucking any of its LNG offsite.

      "It's simply for safety purposes," O'Conor said. "quot;We're not selling it."

      Smith told those in attendance the facility will be staffed 24 hours a day/ seven days a week by five individuals. The facility will also be monitored in Pewaukee.

      When asked what could delay the project, O'Conor said We Energies is working on a number of solar projects now because of the supply chain problem, but many of the materials that will be used for the facility are readily available and American-made.

      Smith stressed the facility will be fenced in with several cameras monitoring the site.

      "Safety is always No. 1 with us," O'Conor said. "We're currently operating 50,000 gas lines and 50,000 electrical lines across five states and we haven't had any problems yet. This facility in Ixonia is pretty standard construction. Safety is priority No. 1 with us."

      The road traveled by We Energies to reach Wednesday's pre-construction meeting has been a fairly long and controversial one.

      In the summer of 2020, Ixonia's plan commission listened to a presentation from We Energies about the proposed project on approximately 120 acres that could bring estimated shared revenue payments of $550,000 annually to the town and $1.1 million, yearly, to Jefferson County.

      Subsequent hearings and informational sessions were held in which We Energies representatives reiterated their claims that southeastern Wisconsin is in need of additional natural gas supplies to meet customer use on the coldest days of the year and that Ixonia is a strategic location for the utility because there are gas lines already nearby, which some individuals questioned Wednesday if they could get natural gas into there homes with this project.

      O'Conor said they will be able to do so. He said We Energies will be going door-to-door in the spring and summer months asking residents if they want natural gas because the company will be able to extend its resource throughout the town.

      Smith said if individuals have questions they are urged to call the We Energies project hotline at 1-877-380-522. There will also be project updates on the Town of Ixonia's website.

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