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Demand for frac-sand appears to be sinking in western Wisconsin...for now

The demand for frac-sand appears to be sinking in western Wisconsin and Minnesota – as least for now. Over 100 silica sand mines opened in the Badger State in recent years, the most in the nation, amid a demand by oil-and-gas companies to use it in their domestic drilling equipment. However, the Winona Daily News quotes both industry and government officials as saying the demand for frac-sand has cooled off greatly this year – but it will grow again soon. The Fredonia Group, a market research outfit, says the total annual demand for the product will grow by almost five-percent a year through at least 2016. Experts say the demand for frac-sand was higher than the supply a year ago, but the supply has since caught up. For now, Superior Sand Systems of Wabasha , Minnesota expects to remain idle, after it got an operation permit late last year. Meanwhile, U-S Silica – the nation’s second-largest frac-sand maker – just opened a mine at Sparta, and it expects no problem selling what the new mine produces. As of 2011, the U-S Geological Survey said only 41-percent of all frac-sand produced in the nation was used for hydraulic and packing equipment. The rest was used to help manufacture other products ranging from toothpaste to roofing shingles. 


About 200 electric customers were still without power this morning in southern Wisconsin, after thousands were in the dark due to heavy storms late yesterday. The National Weather Service said a rare “gust-nado” might have landed near DeForest north of Madison, where most of a roof was blown off a house – and the debris caused minor damage to other homes. A “gust-nado” is often mistaken for a weak tornado, but it has does not have the same type of rotation. In Waukesha County, two horses were struck by lightning, and two women were hurt while riding them in the Kettle Moraine State Forest. T-V reports said the horses threw off their riders and ran away. The women were said to be up walking after the incident. They were taken to a hospital to be checked out. We Energies said 64-hundred electric customers had lost their power in yesterday’s storms in eastern Wisconsin. Only about 75 were still out as of five a-m. Over 110 Wisconsin Power-and-Light customers were still without electricity, mostly in the Janesville area where almost an inch of rain fell in 10 minutes. Racine was hit with three-and-a-half inches of rain. Palmyra had the most, three-point-eight inches in two waves of storms. Small hail fell at Whitewater and Eagle. Muggy weather returns to much of Wisconsin today, with highs in the 70’s-and-80’s. There’s a chance for more storms through tonight – and forecasters say some could be severe. 


Wisconsin’s up-and-down gas prices are down again – at least a little. The Wisconsin Triple-“A” said the statewide average was 3.70-point-eight this morning for a gallon of regular unleaded. That’s down four-tenths-of-a-cent from yesterday, but it was still almost six cents more than a week ago. Metro Milwaukee reports a big price drop over the past week. Milwaukee Gas Prices-Dot-Com said its average today was 3.72-point-nine – down a penny from yesterday, and six-and-a-half cents cheaper than a week ago. Growing demand and rising crude oil prices caused gas to jump dramatically since summer began. 


Wisconsin dairy cows remain busier than others around the country. New federal numbers show that the Badger State's milk production rose by one-point-eight percent in June, compared to a year earlier. The national increase was lower at one-and-a-half percent. California, the nation's top milk-producer, had another drop in production of eight-tenths of a percent. Wisconsin is the nation's Number-two milk state, producing two-point-three billion pounds last month. California made just under three-and-a-half million. Third-place Idaho held steady at almost one-point-two billion pounds. The U-S-D-A normally tells us monthly cow numbers, and average production figures per cow -- but those numbers won't gathered until fall, due to the federal budget sequester. 


The Powerball jackpot has risen to 166-million-dollars for Wednesday night. Nobody won the top prize on Saturday night – and once again, Wisconsin players did not have much luck winning smaller prizes. Five state players won 200-dollars each by buying the Power Play option, and matching four regular numbers or three-plus-the-Powerball. Almost 13-thousand-600 Wisconsin players won smaller prizes. Saturday's numbers were 14, 25, 27, 38, and 58. The Powerball was 6. Wednesday's cash option is just over 97-million dollars. In Mega Millions, the jackpot is at 13-million dollars for tomorrow night. 

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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