Ixonia We Energies tank

This is an artist’s rendering of what a proposed We Energies Liquid Natural Gas Project site, with large tank, could look like in Ixonia.

IXONIA — Ixonia’s plan commission listened to a presentation from We Energies Wednesday about a proposed liquid natural gas 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.

The facility, if realized, would be located northeast of Hill and North roads and be operational by late 2023.

Members of the public attending the session numbered about 40. One person asked why the structures, as they have been depicted, would have to be white. We Energies representatives said white is the best color because they should be able to reflect the sun and not absorb heat.

No one spoke in support of the project.

In addition to the site in Ixonia, the total project would also include a site in Walworth County’s Town of LaGrange. Each site would cost approximately $185 million.

According to We Energies, each site would include pre-treatment equipment, the LNG storage tank, vaporization equipment and truck loading/unloading equipment.

According to We Energies, southeastern Wisconsin is in need of additional natural gas supplies to meet customer use on the coldest days of the year. Ixonia is a strategic location for the utility because there are gas lines already nearby.

We Energies Project Manager Rick O’Conor described what liquid natural gas storage facilities do for the Daily Times in a story in mid-June.

He said natural gas is taken from the underground pipeline system during summer, when demand is lowest. It is then cooled until it turns into a liquid and is stored in a tank.

During winter, when demand for natural gas is high, the liquid natural gas is warmed and returned to its natural gas form. It is then sent back through the pipeline system for customers to use in heating homes, cooking meals and for other needs.

O’Conor said the state Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, the state Department of Transportation and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration have regulatory authority over the facilities and their locations. The Wisconsin Consumer Protection Bureau will also have limited jurisdiction.

We Energies is planning to purchase the Ixonia property near the Hill/North roads intersection, if the project is approved. The facility, itself, would occupy approximately 20 acres of the more than 100 acres We Energies is pursuing. The tank would hold 12 million gallons of gas and would be 150 feet high and 150 feet in diameter. A typical water tower in the U.S. is said to be 140 feet high.

We Energies told the Ixonia commission Wednesday that the town’s residents who are We Energies customers could benefit by having a nearby, lower-cost option to meet peak natural gas needs during the coldest months of the winter. They also said there would be a local supply of natural gas that is not dependent upon interstate pipelines and the project would bring local construction and operating jobs.

“Our estimate for the facility is to have a net book value of $185 million,” We Energies said.

The presentation included information on safety, with We Energies representatives saying that safety is of paramount importance to them.

“The facility will be designed and operated in compliance with all NFPA and PHMSA requirements,” they said. “The site will include the required setback area to keep any impacts of an incident within the facility property boundaries.”

They also said We Energies will develop a site-specific fire protection evaluation and emergency response plan with local fire departments.

The facility will include fire and gas detection systems, and an automatic emergency shutdown system if any hazardous conditions are detected.

We Energies said there are more than 100 existing “peaking plants” in the U.S. Some of these that are closer to Dodge and Jefferson counties include ones in central Illinois; Oak Creek; St. Paul, Minnesota and Eau Claire.

Project permits and approvals that need to be obtained by We Energies include a Wisconsin PSC Certificate of Authority. Also needed are NFPA and PHMSA site setbacks, as well as safety and fire protection evaluations; Wisconsin DNR permits; town and county permits, such as conditional use permits, building permits and a driveway permit.

The schedule for the project includes:

  • June 2020 — Filed application with Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.
  • Fall 2020 — Anticipated PSCW decision.

If the project is approved:

  • Fall 2020 — order equipment.
  • Spring 2021 — start construction.
  • Spring 2023 — Begin start-up and filling LNG tank.
  • Fall 2023 — Commercial operation.

The matter will come before the Ixonia Town Board during a regular board session scheduled for Aug. 17.

LaGrange has already approved its project.

For more information on the project, call 877-380-0522.

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