New FERC pipeline project – Central Penn Pipeline

In a letter dated March 31st, Williams/Transco pre-filed with FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) for their proposed Atlantic Sunrise Project. The project’s time line includes Open Houses May-June, 2014; Anticipated Construction Start, June 2016; Target In-Service, July 1, 2017. Thus, basically we are in the beginning of a three year process.

Other project details note that “there are no LNG terminal facilities related to or proposed as part of the project.”   This is quite an extensive undertaking, as the Atlantic Sunrise project involves additional capacity from the Leidy Line to Fairfax, Virginia and even beyond. Part of this expansion includes the Central Penn Pipeline which is a new proposed line that runs essentially from Susquehanna County to Lancaster County. According to the pre-filing, “This additional commitment will require Transco to extend the Central Penn Line northward from the Leidy Line to the Zick Interconnection.”

The details pertaining to the Northern Tier Region as the pipeline is proposed in Susquehanna & Wyoming Counties, will begin at the Zick Interconnect as a 30” pipeline that will run south through Wyoming County and beyond. A new 30,000 horse power compressor station, named Station 605 is proposed in Susquehanna County. Many compressor stations along the project path are being designed for bi-directional flow.

Presently, many landowners have been contacted and active survey crews are out and about.

Regionally, when we signed on for Marcellus Natural Gas drilling, essentially, we signed on for pipelines. While some may not have thought much about pipelines at the time, they are part of the package. Pipelines are the safest mode of transportation for this resource, though that does not mean they are not without risk. So, here follows what we like about this project, suggestions of what we’d like to see in project design and resources for folks facing either the first time or have experience regarding pipeline placement on their property.

What do we like about this project? (Italics are right from the pre-filing)

• Unlike other large diameter, high pressure, natural gas pipelines, this is not a gathering line but a regulated transmission line. Because of that, we are offered meetings, communication and public comment opportunities. Thus the community can assist the operator with better routing and safety suggestions.

Transco will select a preferred route for the Project that takes into consideration impacts on the community and the environment.

• In order to reduce potential impacts, approximately 36 percent of the initial Project corridor has been co-located within or adjacent to Transco’s existing pipeline right-of-way or other existing utility rights-of way.

• Williams established a website  for the project. Williams has done this in the past with other projects.  Their website includes a page for frequently asked questions – FAQs.

• Williams intends to distribute Project Update newsletters to interested stakeholders.

• The 30,000 horse power compressor station proposed in Susquehanna County is slated to be an electric compressor station. What does this mean? Well according to EPA  – An additional benefit of electric motors in place of a gas driven engine is the faster permitting process as a result of lower noise output and no emissions. This is a good deal for the Northern Tier Region’s AQ and nearby residents.

• They project holding ten open houses which invitations may be issued and include newspaper ads in publications such as the Susquehanna County Independent, Susquehanna County Transcript, Scranton Times, and Wyoming County Press Examiner; common publications in both Susquehanna & Wyoming Counties.

• This pipeline will provide natural gas transport from our region in part to the proposed Wildcat Point Power Plant in Cecil County, Maryland. Natural gas power plants are offsetting electricity formerly produced at coal fired power plants. Combined cycle natural gas power plants have substantially less air emissions than their coal fired counterparts.

Additionally, what would we like to see in this project?

  • Built to and operated at Class 3 Area location standards.
  • Automatic shutoff valves.
  • Shutoff valves placed according to Class 3 Area location standards.
  • Routing away from homes, beyond the potential impact radius. Similar consideration for schools, nursing homes, etc.
  • In order to reduce potential impacts, approximately 36 percent of the initial Project corridor has been co-located within or adjacent to Transco’s existing pipeline right-of-way or other existing utility rights-of way.   Co-locating within existing right-of-way or other existing utility rights of way is preferable.
  • Community involvement.
  • Effective negotiations with landowners with the goal of avoiding the use of eminent domain.

Resources:

• Pre-filing Document

 FERC Citizens Guide: An Interstate Natural Gas Facility on My Land? What do I need to Know?

• Pipeline Safety Trust: Landowner’s Guide to Pipelines

• PA Eminent Domain: A Landowner’s Guide 2011

• PST November 2013 Newsletter

Potential Impact Radius

Some of the above materials may be slow loading.  If you are unable to open them, please email us via our contact page.

 

Finally, as a reminder, please seek legal counsel before signing any pipeline easement. A pipeline easement is more important than your gas lease. A pipeline easement may affect future land-use on a large portion of your property.

DISCLAIMER:  C.O.G.E.N.T. does not provide legal advisement.  Nothing here should be construed as legal advisement.  Landowners and the community need to be informed and provided here are resources only for information purposes.

 

This is the first Northern Tier FERC line to be proposed since C.O.G.E.N.T. was formally organized. We are pleased to see a proposed pipeline that provides for the FERC process enabling avenues for public input. We’ve only rarely had this opportunity within the Northern Tier Region in comparison to the number of pipelines the Region hosts. We are seeing ever increasing miles and miles of gathering lines in our region, the bulk,  not regulated for safety purposes due to a Federal and State exemption. Thus, for most of the pipelines in our region, we are not offered the public input measures that are available to us in the FERC process. Thus, we are encouraged that Northern Tier residents have the opportunity to take advantage of the process as landowners and residents, to become informed and advocate for community friendly measures whether it be routing, environmental or safety measures in the project’s design.

 

Emily Krafjack, President