Announced last November, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has officially approved the interconnection of third-party biogas recycling facilities to the state’s public natural gas distribution network. Infrastructure improvements will be paid for by suppliers and will have zero impact on residential customers’ bills. The move opens the doors for renewable natural gas to be captured from Minnesota’s agricultural, food processing, and wastewater treatment sites.
Under the now approved proposal, CenterPoint Energy asked the Commission to allow RNG to be injected into the public pipeline provided that quality standards and testing protocols were followed to ensure that all RNG is fully interchangeable with conventional natural gas.
The Benefit of Interconnection
Allowing RNG producers to connect to CenterPoint Energy’s and other utilities’ distribution pipeline will make it easier for new RNG facilities to enter the market. Direct access to existing natural gas customers removes a major barrier to entry and will spur additional investment into clean energy solutions at biogas producing locations throughout Minnesota.
Net Negative Carbon Impact
Increasing RNG production offers exciting possibilities for positive environmental impact. Depending on the source of the organic material where biogas is captured, purifying renewable natural gas and burning it as a fuel can remove more carbon from the environment than the process produces. This level of sustainability is made possible because:
- RNG capture recycles waste methane gas that would otherwise be burned or released directly into the air
- Replacing conventional natural gas with RNG lowers the need to extract additional fossil fuels
Devoted to Innovation in Clean Energy
In 2020, CenterPoint Energy also proposed the bipartisan Natural Gas Innovation Act to the Minnesota State Legislature. The act aims to further drive capacity for natural gas utilities in Minnesota to invest in RNG and renewable hydrogen, along with facilitating greater investment into energy-efficiency and carbon-capture technologies. The landmark law passed in June 2021, providing the regulatory framework for natural gas utilities to streamline innovation plan approvals through the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
In addition to supporting the state’s greenhouse emissions reduction goals, the Natural Gas Innovation Act helps to diversify Minnesota’s energy sources, promotes technological advancement in renewable energy, supports job creation in rural counties, and improves waste management outcomes.