Midwest Energy awarded $8.6 million for rural natural gas pipeline replacement, equipment

(UI) — Midwest Energy has been awarded $8.6 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) for the improvement of rural natural gas infrastructure in Kansas’ Barton, Russell and Ellsworth counties, and to purchase upgraded natural gas leak detection equipment.

(Image: Midwest Energy)

“Through purchasing upgraded natural gas leak detection equipment, Midwest Energy can better protect employees and those in the community while reducing natural gas losses and delivering reliable energy for the area,” Kansas Senator Jerry Moran said.

The grants originating from the $1.2 trillion 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, are to help modernize municipally and community-owned natural gas distribution pipes, reducing leaks and improving safety. The legislation enabled the DoT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to designate $200 million a year in grant funding with a total of $1 billion in grant funding over five years.  

Midwest Energy has been awarded two grants under this program. The first, $580,800 for the purchase of 23 laser leak detection devices and four side-by-side Utility Task Vehicles, to improve safety and efficiency of gas leak surveys across 3,000 miles of rural natural gas pipeline.

“By using a UTV, one person can survey many miles of line each day in a fraction of the time required on foot,” Cindy Strube, Midwest Energy’s natural gas compliance specialist, said. “This grant will enable us to reduce our natural gas line losses in a manner that’s safer for our employees and the general public, while reducing costs and environmental impacts.” 

The second grant, totaling $8.08 million, will replace 68 miles of bare steel gas pipeline with corrosion-resistant polyethylene pipe in Barton, Russell and Ellsworth Counties. 

“It is important we continue to provide the resources and assistance necessary to help our energy providers maintain and repair essential infrastructure, especially in our rural communities,” Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) said. “I am proud to support Midwest Energy in its efforts to upgrade nearly 70 miles of natural gas pipeline, allowing the continued safe and effective flow of natural gas to residents in multiple counties.” 

Replacement of the pipeline segments will take approximately three years, with the project set to conclude in 2026.

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