The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

May 4, 2014

10 miles of gas line to pass through Northumberland County

Local governmental officials whose municipalities will be affected by approximately 10 miles of natural gas piping being installed in the southeastern tip of Northumberland County by 2017 have no strong opinions on the project.

Due to the boom of the Marcellus Shale gas industry, Williams Partners L.P., of Wilkes-Barre, is in the preliminary stages of expanding its Transco pipeline system that’s known as the Atlantic Sunrise Project, which will include nearly 200 new miles of pipes through Sullivan, Columbia, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Lebanon and Lancaster counties.

While it’s still early in the developmental stages, the piping is likely coming through Coal Township, Ralpho Township and East Cameron Township in Northumberland County, according to project maps.

Northumberland County has received two letters since March about the project, said county planning commission Director Pat Mack.

There’s no reason to be against the project, he said.

“It’ll be cheaper for people to heat their homes. I’d like to see where it’s going to go for sure, though, before we get behind it wholeheartedly,” Mack said.

Ralpho Township Manager Joseph Springer and Coal Township Manager Rob Slaby both said they received notification of the project, but it’s too early to be worried about it yet, if at all.

“We’re waiting for updates right now,” Springer said.

Both managers brought the subject up at work sessions last month, but they said the townships’ elected officials did not have much to say.

Plus, if any landowners were contacted, they haven’t brought it to the township officials’ attention.

“We’ve had no response at all,” Slaby said. “A lot more information will come out, then we might have public input.”

East Cameron officials could not be reached for comment.

On April 1, Williams Partners submitted its pre-filing request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee for the Atlantic Sunrise Project.

According to the project website, the $2.1 billion project is “designed to help ‘debottleneck’ pipeline capacity constraints that lead to higher energy bills, while allowing Williams to continue to ensure reliable natural gas service.”

The project is expected to add 1.7 million dekatherms per day of pipeline capacity, which is enough natural gas to meet the daily needs of more than 7 million American homes, and will connect producing regions in northeastern Pennsylvania to markets in the Mid-Atlantic and southeastern states, as far south as Georgia and Alabama.

The project will consist of compression and looping of the Transco Leidy Line in Pennsylvania along with a greenfield pipeline segment, referred to as the Central Penn Line, connecting the northeastern Marcellus producing region to the Transco mainline near Station 195 in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Additional existing Transco facilities are being added or modified to allow gas to flow bi-directionally.

The preliminary project design includes a total of 178 miles of new greenfield pipe, two pipeline loops totaling about 15 miles, 2 1/2 miles of existing pipeline replacement, two new compressor facilities in Pennsylvania and other facility additions or modifications in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Williams Partners sent a letter to Northumberland County on March 4 with an explanation of the proposed projects and a request for permission to conduct land surveys on the boundaries of county land to “identify environmental, cultural and physical conditions that might affect the location of any proposed pipeline facilities.”

A second letter was sent April 17 to inform the county of updates to the project and that the firm has been contacting residents about surveying their land.

The firm surveying land during April.

Once the final pipeline route is selected, crews would be limited to only a 50-foot wide right-of-way and would use 60 to 75 feet of temporary workspace when construction begins, which is expected in June 2016.

Mack said the county planning commission will be responsible for reviewing and approving plans once they are submitted.

The plans will include locations and scope of work, he said.

The county has met with Williams officials, who are doing their “due diligence” in contacting affected municipalities, Mack said.

Before applications to construct facilities, meetings will be held this month or in June to provide an opportunity for public comment and proposal review.

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