An open house next month will give Ashtabula County residents the chance to ask questions about an $86 million natural gas pipeline project scheduled for next year. RH energytrans of Erie, Pennsylvania — the company that will build the pipeline — will host the open house between 5:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at Water’s Catering, 3224 E. Center St. (Route 20) in North Kingsville.

“Notices are going out to anyone with a vested interest in the project,” Dennis Holbrook, a company spokesperson, said Friday.

The project would build an estimated 28 miles of new, 12-inch pipe that would be attached to an existing 32 miles of line that begins in Meadville, Pennsylvania. The new portion would travel about 16 miles in a northwestern direction through Pennsylvania before entering the Conneaut area, where the new pipe would continue for another 12 miles, culminating at a spot in North Kingsville.

“There is, and has been for some time, a need to have additional natural gas supply brought into the Ashtabula area,” according to the RH energytrans website.

Dominion Energy would be the beneficiary, Holbrook has said. “We would be providing a transportation service for the benefit of Dominion,” Holbrook has said.

In September, the Conneaut and Buckeye Local school boards approved plans that would abate 75 percent of the property tax normally due on the work for a 15-year period. Last month, the developer filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to construct the pipeline, dubbed the Risberg Line, Holbrook said.

“(The document) was pretty voluminous,” Holbrook said.

Many more regulatory agencies need to sign off on the project before construction can start as scheduled in summer 2018.

“There’s a whole series of regional permits (that are required),” Holbrook said. “It’s a long list.” RH energytrans expects to see natural gas flowing through the pipe sometime next fall, according to a timeline on the company’s website. Planning for the pipeline began two years ago, while negotiations for right-of-way agreements started a year ago, officials have said. Some 100 parcels in Ohio and Pennsylvania could be involved. Consultants hired by RH energytrans spent the summer examining the flora and fauna that could live along the pipe’s proposed path.

“Environmentally, we want the project to be as benign as possible and as unobtrusive as possible,” Holbrook said.

The pipe will be buried at an average depth of three-and-a-half to four feet, he said. Dominion Energy has endorsed the Risberg project, saying the increase supply will spur economic development in Ashtabula County. Conneaut City Manager James Hockaday, in September, agreed the pipeline could spur growth in the region.

“We’ve lost manufacturing jobs over the inadequate natural gas supply,” he said Monday. “This is how you get jobs into Ashtabula County.”

Source: Star Beacon