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County's planning commission to consider manure fuel proposal

The proposal from Amp Americas to convert dairy manure into a biofuel will get a look from the Stevens County Planning Commission on Monday, Jan. 7. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. It will be one of several recent meetings held in relation to the Amp America proposal.

Amp Americas has applied for a conditional use permit to allow the construction and operation of an agricultural processing plant. The planning commission would need to amend the county zoning ordinance to allow the proposed plant in agricultural, highway service business and limited industry zoning districts.

Amp Americas proposes to convert dairy manure from several Riverview LLP dairies in the area. The methane in the dairy will be removed by digesters at each dairy. The remaining material will be transported by underground low-pressure pipes in county right of ways to a processing plant for addition conversion into a biofuel. The biofuel will travel through more underground pipes in county right of ways to a larger main pipeline in the county owned by Alliance.

The county has not approved the proposed project. The planning commission meeting is one of several steps in the review of the request.

County coordinator Becky Young said on Jan. 3 that the planning commission could make a decision on the Amp Americas request at the Jan. 7 hearing. If the commission approves the amendment, the county commissioners could consider it at their regular meeting on Jan. 8.

The county board agenda for Jan. 8 also includes discussion about a letter of support for a Minnesota Department of Transportation exception for the Amp Americas project. Amp Americas will apply for an exception from the MnDOT to use public right of ways for an underground pipeline.

There are no state and federal regulations that govern low-pressure pipelines. MnDOT has determined the Amp Americas's proposal is a private use of a public right of way. Right of ways were created for mandated public uses for utilities such as telephone, fiber optic cable and similar uses. Amp Americas would need an exception from MnDOT in order to use the county public right of ways.

Young said the board has the ability to make a decision on the letter of support for Amp Americas's exception request but it could wait for additional discussion at the Jan. 15 meeting.

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