The $86 million Risberg natural gas pipeline is designed to carry natural gas from western Erie County into Ashtabula County, Ohio.
The $86 million Risberg natural gas pipeline, designed to carry natural gas 28 miles from western Erie County into Ashtabula County, Ohio, is moving closer to reality.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the project on Dec. 7, according to a copy of a letter from Neil Chatterjee, chairman of the commission, to U.S. Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-PA.
The pipeline is being built by Erie-based RH Energytrans, located at 558 W. Sixth St. The company has negotiated rights-of-way with more than 100 property owners to build a pipeline that extends from Elk Creek Township to North Kingsville, Ohio.
The Erie County end of the pipeline would connect to an existing distribution line owned by EmKey Energy, a sister company to RH Energytrans. That eight-inch and 12-inch pipeline connects near Meadville to the Tennessee Gas distribution system that originates on the Gulf Coast.
According to previous reports, Dominion East Ohio would be the primary customer for natural gas flowing through the new pipeline.
While RH Energytrans had originally predicted construction might begin this year, it does appear likely that could construction could being soon, likely starting in Ohio.
A Dec. 21 letter from lawyers representing the pipeline company to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission outlines the status of the project.
“RH has received all the applicable authorizations required under federal law, with the exception of the Pennsylvania USACE Clean Water Act Section 404 authorization and PADEP Permits,” according to the letter from RH Energytrans.
The letter goes on to say those permits are nearly final and should be issued soon.
The letter continues: “RH has satisfied all of the pre-construction requirements that the certificate order imposes on it as to Ohio and is now ready to commence construction in Ohio.”
Øivind Risberg, CEO of EmKey and RH Energytrans, could not be reached for comment.
A website promoting the pipeline, however, touts the economic benefits of the project, saying: “Access to new natural gas supply will allow the Ashtabula area to reverse decades of lost opportunities and attract new businesses and jobs.”
Not everyone will be pleased to see the project move ahead, however,
J. Sam Miller, of Erie, a member of the Lake Sierra Club, was among those who submitted comments in opposition to the project.
In a Dec. 23, 2017 letter to the editor of the Erie Times-News, he called the project a boondoggle that would be of little benefit to Erie County.
“The pipeline companies receive ownership of the system and operating revenues,” he wrote. “The rest of us get a lot of risk from pipeline explosions, which have been on the increase lately; disruption of the environment during construction; noise and greenhouse gas emissions from compressor stations during operation; even land devaluation for neighbors along the route.”
In Ashtabula, which has been plagued with a shortage of natural gas needed for industry, the project has created a sense of excitement, according to a recent report in Gazette Newspapers.
That report quotes Greg Myers, executive director of the Ashtabula Growth Partnership, who said, “This is certainly a game changer for Ashtabula County, in terms of our economic-development competitiveness.
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