First open house for natural gas pipeline project held
WEIGH SCALES - Engineers from Williams and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Office of Energy Projects (FERC) hosted an informational open house at the Wayside Inn Wednesday.
The session provided information about the Atlantic Sunrise Project, a natural gas pipeline expected to impact 33 landowners in Northumberland County.
Landowners affected by the right of way were invited to the open house, as well as any other person seeking additional information or wishing to provide feedback on the project.
The session centered around a long table with a map of the local segment of gas pipe right of way. Engineers involved with the design of the project milled about, with some manning tables of information around the perimeter of the room.
The engineers appeared to greatly outnumber local citizens.
FERC also provided information on the permit approval process and received feedback on the project.
Jennifer Kerrigan, who was in attendance to represent FERC, said the commission welcomed any and all input from citizens, regardless if they own an affected tract of land.
Kerrigan estimated that FERC had already received between 600 and 700 comments on the Atlantic Sunrise Project.
The Atlantic Sunrise Project is currently in a period preceding its permit application.
Once Williams files a formal draft, which is anticipated to be in the spring of 2015, FERC will look over the proposed route and note necessary changes. During the creation of a second draft of the permit, additional public comments will be accepted.
"We like to get (comments) by the closing date so we can go find out information on them," said Kerrigan. "But until we go to print out or documents, we're listening."
Christopher Stockton, spokeperson, said Williams is equally as interested in feedback from the public.
"This is a dialogue, not a monologue," said Stockton. "For example, somebody might point out, 'Did you know there's a septic system here?'"
Stockton said Williams completed a similar project in New York. After public input, approximately 50 percent of the original proposed route changed.
"We're expecting the same thing," said Stockton.
A group of of affected landowners who wished to not be identified said they had not yet received enough information from Williams to have a strong opinion on the pipeline traversing their properties.
"What's going to happen if you let them go through?" asked one, who said the pipeline would only be crossing the edge of her property. "Will it bring property values down?"
Another, who had land the pipeline would nearly bisect, wondered if her property insurance would become "sky high."
"If we get enough money, we'll think highly of it," joked the landowners's son.
AOAA land involved
In addition to a number of private landowners, the pipeline is proposed to cross Northumberland County land occupied by the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA). Pat Mack, AOAA authority member, said he is unsure of how this might affect the riding area.
The AOAA has a surface ground lease with Northumberland County, so the pipeline would not technically be on AOAA land. Other smaller-scale underground utilities and numerous above ground wires existed on the property prior to the AOAA's development, which has given the authority some experience in dealing with this situation.
"We're watching it," said Mack.
Additional meetings for surrounding counties are scheduled for this week. Columbia County's meeting will be today at the Bloomsburg Fire Department Social Hall, 911 Market St., Bloomsburg.
Schuylkill County's meeting will be held Monday at the Tremont Fire Company.
All meetings will be from 6 to 8 p.m.
FERC accepts comments through its website, www.ferc.gov, by calling 202-502-8258 or by sending physical mail to Kimberly D. Bose, secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 88 First St., NE; Room 1A, Washington, D.C., 20426.
To contact Williams regarding the Transco project, call 866-455-9103 or e-mail AtlanticSunrise@Williams.com.