Live Oak —
Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC will be hosting two open house meetings for the interested public to learn more about the underground natural gas pipeline project that is proposed to come through Suwannee County.
The public is invited to attend the meetings on Tuesday, Dec. 3, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Coliseum (11th Street/Fairgrounds) in Live Oak and on Wednesday, Dec. 4, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Branford High School (405 S Reynolds St., Branford).
Sabal Trail representatives will be available to answer questions on the proposed facilities, land acquisition, environmental and permitting processes, construction and operation, and other aspects of the project. Representatives from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will also be available.
For more information you can call 888-596-7732 or visit www.sabaltrail.com.
As previously reported by the Suwannee Democrat
Natural gas pipeline to extend 40 miles in Suwannee County
500 landowners could be affected
By Bryant Thigpen
Sabal Trail Transmission has announced their intent to construct a natural gas pipeline which will run approximately 40 miles in Suwannee County, according to Andrea Grover, spokesperson for Sabal Trail Transmission. Plans are underway to construct a natural gas pipeline from North Alabama to Central Florida and could be constructed as early as Summer 2016.
If the proposed map remains unchanged, the pipeline is about 470 miles long and will make its way through four Alabama counties, nine Georgia counties and 12 Florida counties, including Suwannee and surrounding Madison and Hamilton counties.
The pipeline will extend for approximately 40 miles in Suwannee County and approximately 500 landowners will be affected by this project. About 100 landowners in Hamilton County will be affected by this project as well.
“The routing is very much not set,” Grover said.
According to Grover, the current proposed route could change, but it will stay within the 600 feet corridor. Grover said the pipeline will run along existing rights-of-way for about 80 percent of the route. When construction begins, the pipeline’s projection path will be narrowed down to a 50 feet corridor.
The company is currently studying each area and reviewing the properties. The company will make route changes along the way, and hopes to have narrowed the route down to the 50 feet corridor by the end of next year, known as their preferred route.
Grover said she is unsure when property owners will be notified of their properties final impact, however, she said it will be next year for sure before any decisions are made.
Since Sabal Trail was selected by Florida Power and Light Company to construct the gas line, the company has been doing their homework in preparing the route and conducting surveys and holding town hall meetings to inform the public of their efforts.
In the summer of this year, Sabal Trail sent out a letter to all property owners that may be affected by the project and in the letter, they asked for permission to survey their property. According to Grover, only 80 of about 500 property owners responded.
“Our ultimate goal is to stay along existing right-of-ways and where current utilities exist,” Grover said.
If the company has to negotiate with property owners, Grover said her staff has a high success rate of working with individuals.
“We work really well with landowners,” she said.
Grover also said eminent domain is always a last resort.
The company held two landowner meetings recently in Suwannee County, one in Branford and the other in Live Oak. Grover said her staff will be conducting several meetings in cities along the proposed path of the gas line.
“Our goal is to hold these meetings so people can come and hopefully won’t have to drive no more than 20 miles,” Grover said.
Starting in December, she said the company seeks to hold 18 open house events, two which are tentatively scheduled for Live Oak and Branford.
“We absolutely want to hear from the people,” Grover said. “We want to do our homework and we want to make the right decision.”
Currently, the company is engaging with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to begin the pre-file process, which allows the company’s project to be on the record, so the public can ask FERC questions directly if they choose not to correspond with Sabal Trail.
Once the process has been completed, the company will notify each landowner of their involvement with FERC and will encourage each person to call them or their office with questions.
At the end of next year, Sabal Trail hopes to file an application for a certificate which will allow the company to begin construction on the gas line. According to Grover, the process of approval takes about a year. Should the process go smoothly, the company could begin construction as early as 2016. It’s the goal of the company to have the pipeline constructed and flowing by May 1, 2017.
Sabal Trail’s efforts to develop a new natural gas transportation system in the region is in response to an industry-wide request by Florida Power & Light Company to provide dedicated natural gas transportation services for their power generation needs starting in May 2017.
Sabal Trail is a wholly owned affiliate of Spectra Energy Corp, a leading transporter of clean-burning natural gas. Through their multiple interstate pipeline companies, they have been providing natural gas to local utility and electric generating facilities for almost 70 years.
At the onset of the project, Sabal Trail will have two above-ground facilities; one will be constructed in Tallapoosa County, Ala., at the start of the pipeline and one at the end in Osceola County in Florida. An additional five stations will be added after the in-service date.
For safety purposes, Grover said the pressure in the pipelines will be monitored around the clock and a fly over will be conducted regularly. Grover also said they will walk the line once a year.
“Things will be going on all the time to ensure safety,” Grover said.
Sabal Trail believes this project will create a significant amount of jobs during the construction and add capital investment and tax base in Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
Thoughts from those impacted
Seville Flowers, a Suwannee County resident, said she does not support the project.
“I’d like them to put it on somebody else’s property instead of mine,” Flowers said, laughing. “It’s my understanding they can come in and take it (the property). I really don’t know much about it yet, but from what I’ve seen I’m not in favor of it.”
Majorie Goff said she hopes her property will remain untouched.
“I hate to see it go through there because I love wildlife, and we have endangered species on the property, so I’m really sad about that. I don’t have an alternative because our property is so small, and I don’t have much bargaining power, but I do plan to seek an attorney.”