Proposed gas pipeline for Clarksville, Tenn., drawing opposition in Kentucky

Proposed gas pipeline for Clarksville, Tenn., drawing opposition in Kentucky

September 30th, 2013 by Associated Press in Local - Breaking News

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - A proposed $6 million natural gas pipeline for Clarksville has hit a snag. A Kentucky county wants access to the gas being transported on it before granting approval.

Todd County, Ky., officials won't grant approval for the 25-mile line without being able to tap into its contents.

Clarksville Gas & Water General Manager Pat Hickey told The Leaf-Chronicle granting anyone access to the pipeline would increase administrative costs by $100,000 a year.

Dwight Luton works for Kentucky Energy Systems, the company that Guthrie, Ky., contracts with for their utilities. Luton says opening up the line would fill a void in southern Todd County.

"South Todd does not have gas, and there's a lot more gas needed there," Luton said. "I think it's a good idea for the line, and I just think Todd County needs a connection, since it is going through a large portion of their county."

Clarksville Gas & Water is trying to do environmental assessments, but not all of the 141 affected landowners have let the utility onto their property. Granting anyone access to the pipeline will change the line's regulatory requirements and increase administrative costs by up to $100,000 a year, Hickey said.

"We don't have anyone here that does that stuff," Hickey said. "We'd have to hire someone or contract with someone to do it, and if we don't have any added gas load up there, it would just make things more expensive."

The proposed line will take natural gas from a Texas Gas Transmission line north of Elkton, Ky., to a CGW transfer station. The proposed route would occupy 82 acres of easements, mostly in farmland, according to a CGW filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

If CGW allowed Todd County to tap into the line, it would become an open-access line instead of a proprietary line and require that CGW allow anyone in the country access to it. The City Council approved $5.6 million for the line in this year's budget so Clarksville would have a redundant line. Hickey said opening the line may mean that Clarksville no longer has enough volume on the line to use it as a redundant source.

Johns said Todd County has hired the Washington-based Crowell Moring law firm to petition the federal commission.

"We believe that the burden to this community outweighs the benefit, and we've intervened in the impending FERC petition, and we'll intervene in the next one that's re-filed and do our best to accomplish what's in the best interest of our community," Johns said.

CGW has held multiple open houses for people affected or interested in the line to ask questions, both in Kentucky and Clarksville, and the utility plans to finish their application even if they can't get onto all of the affected land. The commission could deny the pipeline, require changes to the route or even require CGW to make it open-access.

Hickey said CGW will have the right to force the easements on land owners if FERC grants certification for the line.

"We would be fair and equitable and try to negotiate with people, but occasionally, you can't negotiate with people and that's when the right of eminent domain comes in," Hickey said.