(February 14, 2018) — Environs about Janesville, Wis. aren’t just the end of the propane pipeline anymore thanks to Mike Turner of Kansas City, Mo.-based Alliance Energy Services. No more drip, drip, drip out the terminus. There’s now rail and storage in Waupaca, Wis., 73 miles southwest of Green Bay, thanks to Turner’s eye for an opportunity to bolster infrastructure and better serve customers.
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Unfortunately, notes Mike Summers, director of marketing at Alliance, Turner, a longtime sales representative and acquisitions manager, passed away in February 2017 prior to the project’s completion, the victim of a vehicular accident. The Waupaca terminal is unofficially known at Alliance Energy as the Mike Turner Memorial Terminal, and it opened in time for the winter heating season service last October.

Served by the CN Railway, the facility is on nine and a half acres and includes nine 60,000-gal. storage tanks. There’s room on the spur for 18 railcars and six can be unloaded at a time. Two trucks can be loaded simultaneously and up to 18 trucks can be lined up on the property. Summers said Alliance Energy president Jason Doyle started his wholesale career in the area, and that many of the marketers that committed to the project have been Alliance customers for more than 25 years.

“We had clients in Junction City and Janesville on the pipeline,” Summers said. “Mike stumbled on the location when he was calling on customers and he asked if they would be interested if we built a rail terminal on the site. That resulted in a resounding yes and it went from there. This project was Mike’s baby.”

The terminal came online about a year and a half after site acquisition negotiations were concluded. It was constructed, and is now operated, by Waupaca-based Energys USA, a company with a long history in engineering and construction and installation of propane bulk storage facilities, air/propane mix standby systems, aerosol propellant plants, autogas dispensing facilities, and grain-drying farm equipment installations.
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Summers commented the terminal sits at the heart of Alliance’s Wisconsin client base, and that it was scaled to meet the needs of local marketers, many located within a 120-mile radius of the Waupaca terminal. “This was a nice cold winter to have the terminal come online,” he said, “and it’s has been great working with CN. They’ve been very helpful.” As the winter rolls along, Alliance is considering whether to add more track on the spur in order to facilitate additional railcars onsite, and if more storage is required. “We want to accommodate our customers, and with the terminal and the pipeline clients don’t have all their [supply] eggs in one basket.”

Construction of the Waupaca rail terminal follows Alliance Energy’s 2014 purchase of a larger terminal in Benson, Minn., which it opened in September of that year. The terminal, formerly owned by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, was supplied by the Cochin pipeline. Following the pipeline’s conversion to diluent service, Alliance converted the Benson terminal to a rail facility capable of unloading 32 railcars and loading 130 trucks a day. The project helped fill a significant supply void in the Upper Midwest and Minnesota caused by the loss of pipeline service. —John Needham