BY VALERIE MYERS
Originally posted on November 12th, 2017
The line would carry natural gas to boost Ashtabula County capacity.
An Erie company plans to build an $86 million pipeline to carry natural gas through western Erie County and into neighboring Ashtabula County, Ohio. RHenergytrans, located at 558 W. Sixth St., has negotiated rights-of-way for the proposed 28-mile pipeline with some 100 Erie and Ashtabula county property owners. The pipeline would extend from Elk Creek Township in Erie County to North Kingsville, Ohio. The Pennsylvania portion of the line would be built south of Interstate 90 through Elk Creek, Conneaut and Springfield townships. The company applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Oct. 16 for authorization for the project.
“Construction could start in 2018,” spokesman Dennis Holbrook said.
The new pipeline would connect to an existing distribution line in Elk Creek Township owned by RHenergytrans sister company EmKey Energy. The 8-inch and 12-inch line runs south through Crawford County to a point near Meadville where it connects to a Tennessee Gas distribution system that originates on the Gulf Coast. The primary customer for natural gas moving through the new pipeline would be Dominion East Ohio, which has committed to buy about 75 percent of the gas provided, Holbrook said. The utility distributes gas to customers in Ashtabula County, where natural gas has not been available in sufficient supply to fuel commercial growth.
“Communities across Ashtabula County have lost jobs due to lack of adequate natural gas capacity,” Conneaut City Manager James Hockaday said. The proposed pipeline would carry up to 55 million cubic feet of natural gas into Ashtabula County daily with the capacity to carry more.
“Anyone who has Dominion service would be able to get more gas as needed,” Hockaday said. “What’s not to like about that?” The pipeline project will also benefit Erie County, Holbrook said.
“Pennsylvania gets the benefit of a business being headquartered and located right in Erie being given the opportunity to expand and add jobs. This project is a win-win for both communities,” he said. Construction of the pipeline is contingent on FERC approval and a number of state and federal permit approvals.
“All of this is subject, for instance, to extensive environmental review,” Holbrook said. “We have had consultants out in the field for the better part of the last five or six months analyzing flowers, birds, bats, bugs — it’s all part of the process. Detailed resource (and impact) reports will be submitted to federal regulators.”
“The pipeline would be buried 3½ to 4 feet underground and would border properties and avoid active farm fields wherever possible, although the pipeline would not interfere with farming,” Holbrook said. “You always wonder about the people issue of this kind of project. And people so far have been wonderful. They’ve taken a very positive attitude both in Pennsylvania and Ohio.”
Public information meetings on the project will be held Dec. 5 in Conneaut and Dec. 6 in Edinboro. The Conneaut meeting will be held at Waters Catering, 3224 E. Center St., from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Edinboro meeting will be held at the Edinboro Volunteer Fire Department Social Hall, 125 Meadville St., from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
“Pipeline designers, contractors, staff working on environmental analyses and regulatory officials will be present at both public meetings,” Holbrook said.