Proposed tri-state natural gas pipeline taking shape

Proposed tri-state natural gas pipeline taking shape

August 20th, 2013 by Ben Benton in Business Around the Region

SPECTRA PIPELINE

Spectra Energy officials say the current route for its Renaissance Project starts in Maury County, Tenn., crosses the northeast corner of Alabama and extends on to the southwest side of Atlanta. Houston, Texas-based Spectra's Renaissance Project also has several proposed lines to deliver gas off that mainline to potential customers along the route. A total of 15 counties are involved.

Counties involved in proposed tri-state natural gas pipeline

Photo by Laura McNutt/Times Free Press.

A proposed high-volume natural gas pipeline linking Maury County, Tenn., to Fayette County, Ga., south of Atlanta aims to expand supplies to the market around Georgia's capital city and the rest of the Southeast.

In the Chattanooga area, the pipeline's projected path bears southeast out of Maury County through Marshall, Bedford, Moore, and Franklin counties in Tennessee before crossing the Alabama state line into Jackson and DeKalb. Then it crosses into Georgia's Chattooga, Floyd, Bartow, Paulding, Cobb, Fulton Clayton and Fayette counties as it heads through Atlanta.

Spectra spokeswoman Andrea Grover said the pipeline, dubbed the "Renaissance Project," will have several proposed lines branching off the main line to potential customers along the route. Grover said she could not discuss "commercial aspects" of routing.

"We are continuing to work with multiple potential customers to design a project to fit their supply demand needs," Grover said in emailed comments on the project.

"From a project kickoff standpoint, we continue to reach out to federal, state and local public officials informing them of the project," she said. "We'll send letters and start contacting landowners along our proposed study corridor pending further market feedback."

Grover said Spectra is finalizing a map of the Renaissance Project study corridor that consists of 15 counties in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia.

Spectra officials say the Renaissance Project could be operational by the second quarter of 2017.

Spectra has closed on a nonbinding open season for the Renaissance Project and has executed a letter of intent with AGL Resources to explore a joint business arrangement for local distribution. AGL is the parent company of Chattanooga Gas Co., and Atlanta Gas Light Co.

The proposed pipeline consists of 290 miles of 36-, 30- and 20-inch pipeline with two compressor stations to maintain line pressures, according to officials. The line will have a capacity of about 1 billion cubic feet per day, and will be expandable to 1.6 billion cubic feet per day, officials said.

BROADER FOOTPRINT

The Renaissance Project is not directly connected to another pipeline project -- a joint venture between Spectra and NextEra Energy Inc. called the "Sabal Trail" -- though both seek to expand services southward. "These are two separate projects, but we're always looking for ways to expand our asset footprint in the Southeast markets and these projects do just that," Spectra Energy spokeswoman Andrea Grover said. The Sabal Trail project runs about 465 miles from southern Alabama through Georgia and into Florida.

Logan Gray, a managing partner with Southern Strategy Group of Alabama, a group that works as an advocate for companies in their relationships with government agencies, said the new pipeline will help meet the growing demand for natural gas.

"It's going to be a good project and the infrastructure for natural gas is such that, industry-wide, there's a great demand for it," he said.

Franklin County, Tenn., Mayor Richard Stewart said local folks will have some concerns about the disruption such a large pipeline passing through, but officials he spoke with said public meetings will be set to field questions and concerns.

"Anytime you mention natural gas, people want to know how it impacts their property," Stewart said. "But the positive point of it will be jobs coming to the county. Even just with the construction of the line, you bring in jobs to do that."

Across the Alabama state line in DeKalb and Jackson counties, local officials predict the pipeline would give Northeast Alabama an industrial boost.

"Coming through our county will be a very positive thing in future industrial growth," Jackson County Commission Chairman Matthew Hodges said of the pipeline. The large Alabama county lacks major interstates, so utilities and fuel supplies become important recruitment tools.

"You need water sewer and gas for industrial development so having that line run through the area will be big for allowing us to expand that," he said.

Next door in Fort Payne, DeKalb County Administrator Matt Sharp echoed Hodges' sentiments, noting ample gas supplies would create business activity around Fort Payne and "will certainly help with industrial recruitment."

In Chattooga County, Ga., where the path enters the Peach State, Summerville Utilities director Tony Carroll said the route will probably pass through Lyerly and part of Menlo on its way to Floyd County.

"If it comes through that area, we're going to look at tying onto it for a backup supply," Carroll said. "It'll boost our pressure and capacity, and help with industrial and business recruitment."

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Subscribe on Facebook at facebook.com/ben.benton1 and follow on twitter.com/BenBenton on Twitter.