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Summit says power supply, blackouts not a concern for pipeline

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Summit says power supply, blackouts not a concern for pipeline

May 28, 2024 | 8:30 pm ET
By Jeff Beach
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Summit says power supply, blackouts not a concern for pipeline
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Dan Pickering of Pickering Energy Partners testifies April 22, 2024, during a Public Service Commission hearing in Mandan on the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline. Pickering testified again May 28, 2024, during a hearing in Bismarck. (Kyle Martin/For the North Dakota Monitor)

The chief operating officer for Summit Carbon Solutions said Tuesday the company would be able to quickly shut down the hazardous liquid pipeline if a power outage were to hit the system. 

COO James Powell testified from Iowa in a hearing before the North Dakota Public Service Commission that the company would be able to shut off mainline valves of the carbon capture pipeline “within seconds.” 

The main trunk of the Summit pipeline would carry carbon dioxide through McIntosh, Logan,  Emmons, Burleigh, Morton and Oliver counties in North Dakota before ending at an underground storage site northwest of Bismarck. A feeder line would run from Tharaldson Ethanol in Cass County and continue through Richland, Sargent and Dickey counties. 

Landowners call communication with Summit ‘horrendous’ during CO2 pipeline rehearing

He said the valves would have solar power backup to allow them to be shut off even if the power is shut down. 

Summit is taking another run at obtaining a permit for its pipeline project after being denied by the PSC last year. Tuesday’s hearing was the first day of five days of hearings in Bismarck. Another public hearing is set for June 4 in Linton. Summit proposes to transport carbon dioxide captured from 57 ethanol plants in five states for permanent storage in North Dakota.

Attorneys Randy Bakke, representing Burleigh County, and Brian Jorde, representing landowners, asked Summit witnesses several questions about whether enough power generation exists for its pipeline project. 

“You think another major competing electricity demander is a benefit to the rest of the citizens of North Dakota?” Jorde asked Dan Pickering of Pickering Energy Partners of Texas. 

“I think, in aggregate, demand growth is generally a positive for the citizens of North Dakota,” Pickering said. 

Summit’s Wade Boeshans, whose background is in the North Dakota coal industry and coal-fired power plants, testified that he didn’t understand concerns about the electric power demands of Summit. 

“Our biggest challenge is we had more generation than we had demand for that generation,” Boeshans said. “Coal plants were running at less than full capacity because there wasn’t enough market or enough market demand.” 

Summit highlights economic benefits of carbon pipeline in second chance at permit

Boeshans said electric co-ops approached him about placing pumps in their service area because the co-ops would benefit from the demand.

Powell testified that Capital Electric Co-op would be able to handle the load in Burleigh County. “They do need to make some infrastructure modifications that Summit will provide the capital for,” Powell said. 

Summit’s second attempt at obtaining a route permit in North Dakota includes an altered route around Bismarck, farther from the city. 

Boeshans said Summit has obtained voluntary easements from about 43% of the new route through Burleigh County. 

Asked why some landowners are reluctant to sign an easement agreement, Boeshans said some landowners may want more money, some are watching the Public Service Commission permit process, and some still have safety concerns about the pipeline. He also said there may be disagreements among family members about the controversial project. 

Overall, Summit says it has obtained more than 80% voluntary easements on the 353 miles of pipeline route through North Dakota. 

With permit denials in North Dakota and South Dakota, Summit has fallen behind its original timeline. It has been sued by a pipeline supplier, which alleges Summit owes it $15 million. 

Powell said Tuesday  the company is working with three other pipeline suppliers and has other options if the dispute with Welspun Tubular of Arkansas is not resolved. 

“We’re not solely dependent on Welspun,” Powell said. 

Summit to make its carbon pipeline permit case again in ND

Summit estimates the project cost has swelled to $8 billion, with some of the revenue to pay for the project coming from federal tax credits that reward carbon capture and storage. 

If Summit is not able to obtain voluntary easements for its pipeline right-of-way, it could resort to using eminent domain, asking the court system to force landowners to provide that easement. Landowners would still receive some compensation under eminent domain. 

The PSC has no authority over eminent domain. 

When asked if Summit reserves the right to use eminent domain in North Dakota, Boeshans said, “that would be fair.” 

Powell agreed. 

“Condemnation is the last option,” Powell said, adding that, “we have a long runway to continue to negotiate.” 

Editor’s note: This story was updated to correct the state where Powell was testifying from.