For Glacial Lakes Energy, joining Summit Carbon Solutions’ pipeline plan means staying competitive

Source: By Alexandra Hardle, Argus Leader • Posted: Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Glacial Lakes Energy hosted a tour of its Mina ethanol plant Wednesday, explaining the value of the proposed Summit Carbon Solutions carbon sequestration pipeline.

MINA – – Summit Carbon Solutions is hoping to break ground on its carbon sequestration pipeline next year.

In an effort to help local leaders learn more about the benefits of the project, Watertown-based Glacial Lakes Energy organized a tour of the company’s ethanol plant in Mina last week.

After the tour, Glacial Lakes Chief Executive Officer Jim Seurer offered some insight as to how Glacial Lakes came to the decision to sign onto the Summit pipeline project.

“The project is important to us, and it represents an opportunity to lower our carbon intensity score to the effect of up to 50%,” he said.

Carbon intensity measures greenhouse gas emissions. A lower carbon intensity score means lower carbon emissions, which is the purpose of the pipeline, proponents say.

Ethanol plants can tap new markets with lower carbon emissions

Some states such as California have low-carbon fuel standards, meaning products can only be sold in that market if the carbon intensity score is low enough. Seurer said the pipeline will help keep Glacial Lakes competitive and that the ethanol producer hasn’t been able to find any other opportunities that would have as significant of an effect as the pipeline would.

He added that Glacial Lakes is listening to the concerns of landowners, some of whom are the company’s shareholders and producers.

Some South Dakota residents have expressed concerns about whether the pipeline would be safe and whether it’s needed. And opposition has been voiced about the possibility of Summit Carbon Solutions using eminent domain in South Dakota. That would have to be approved by the Public Utilities Commission and would allow Summit to take land for the project, even when there is landowner opposition, with compensation. But Summit officials say they want to get all the land needed with easements.

Glacial Lakes Energy produces more ethanol than can be used in South Dakota

Currently, Seurer said Glacial Lakes’ four ethanol plants emit about 1 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, with about 40% of that coming from the Mina plant. Because other markets like Oregon and Washington are moving toward low-carbon fuel standards, he said the key markets simply cannot be ignored. Seurer added low-carbon fuel standards are even being discussed in the Midwest.

Glacial Lakes currently produces too much ethanol to be sold locally, he said.

While the South Dakota uses 40 million gallons of ethanol per year, Glacial Lakes is making 1 million gallons per day, Seurer said. What isn’t sold locally often is sold in other markets.

Summit Chief Commercial Officer Jim Pirolli said the company is currently scheduling hearing dates with the PUC for spring. He said Summit hopes to have a permit by next summer so it can begin construction.

Pirolli said there is misinformation going around about the pipeline, and that hosting Wednesday’s tour allowed an opportunity for education.

The Summit pipeline would collect carbon dioxide emissions from 32 ethanol plants in five states and move them to be stored underground in western North Dakota. The line would cover about 2,000 miles and cost $4.5 billion, according to projections.

Summit Carbon Solutions has 35% of easements needed for carbon pipeline

Pirolli said more than 2,400 easements with 1,600 landowners have been signed along the route, amounting to about 35% of the property needed. In South Dakota, he said, 33% of the necessary easements have been signed.

Seven South Dakota ethanol plants have signed onto the project, including all four of Glacial Lakes’ in Watertown, Aberdeen, Mina and Huron.