Gasline reps flesh out plans for Schoharie


By David Avitabile

Representatives from the company proposing a 30-inch 31.6-mile natural gas line through Schoharie County fleshed out their project to the Schoharie Town Board last week.
The pipeline, if approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, would bring in $5 million in tax revenue per year to the county, officials from Constitution Pipeline said Wednesday night.
They also said the route, while proposed, has not yet been determined and a proposal to have the line run along the right-of-way of I-88 is being studied by FERC and the state Department of Transportation.
Company officials gave the maps to display at the town hall; more detailed maps which will include the properties to be traversed and the names of landowners will be available next month.
The pipeline project is still in the initial phases but an informational open house will be at the Best Western in Cobleskill on Thursday, July 26 from 6:30-8:30pm.
FERC will be holding a "scoping session" in August to listen to residents about the proposed line.
If the line is approved in November 2013, tree clearing could begin in January 2014 and the construction of the pipeline was start in April 2014. The line could go into operation in March 2015.
The line is being proposed to meet the increased need for natural gas in the New York City and Boston markets, representatives said.
The line is being proposed to run from Susquehanna County in Pennsylvania and through Broome, Chenango and Delaware counties before coming into Schoharie County and ending at a Wright compressor station.
Much of the concerns from residents last week were about the location of the line.
Currently, there are 40 land agents working with property owners in the county.
Project Manager Swift said the company will take into account whether the property owner wants the line on their property.
Official Keith Silliman suggested that the property owners work with the land agents and "tell them your concerns...
"We need to have a dialog while we develop this route," he added.
Landowners should tell land agents where they want and do not want the line, he said.
In other projects, there have been instances where about 50 percent of the proposed route has been changed, said company representative Chris Staffel.
To be within 50 to 75 feet of a home "is a quality of life issue," said Supervisor Gene Milone.
"We're trying to run the route so we're not so close to homes," Mr. Swift said, to minimize impact to residences.
Property owners will be paid for the easements, work space and loss of crops and damaged timber, officials said.
Eminent domain could be used to get the easement from some landowners but "from our standpoint," Mr. Swift said, "that's an absolutely last resort."
In those cases, he said, the matter would go to court and a judge would determine how much the easement would be worth.
The company is using local appraisers to determine how much landowners will be paid for the easements.
The karst area of the town will be taken into consideration when the route is chosen, officials said.
"There's a lot of dialog left in relation to that watershed," Mr. Milone said.
"Don't leave here thinking it's a done deal."
There was a suggestion to look at running the line next to I-88.
Mr. Swift said there is no room in the median of the state road to run the line but company officials are looking at whether putting the line east of I-88 "makes any sense."
The company began looking at this option in May and has informed FERC of the possibility, Mr. Swift said.
Mr. Silliman noted that an alternate route near the current propane line, up the Valley and across the creek in several locations is "not a favored alternate."
The survey area is a 600-foot corridor by the pipe, and will determine environmental issues, artifacts and endangered species. The company has also contracted with a geologist for other tests.
The easement for the line will be 110-feet in most areas and 125 feet in agricultural areas, Mr. Swift said.
The line will be buried three feet deep in most locations and four feet deep in farmland.
There were some concerns during the two-hour session about the safety of the line and possible damage to roads during construction.
The pipes will be welded together and then be X-rayed and pressure checked at double the rating for eight hours to check for leaks, Mr. Swift said.
The lines are also inspected internally.
A fly over of the line is done once a week and a walk by the line is done once a year with a gas detector, he said.
There are block valves every 15 miles on the line to shut a section of the line down by computer, if needed.
Officials said videotape of roads will be taken before and after the project and if there is any damage, which is likely in some areas, the roads will be repaired to the way they were before or better, Mr. Swift said.
The company will also post a bond with the towns to pay for repairs.
Mr. Swift said the tax revenue would be about $5 million per year in the county with a slight spike in the year of construction.
There would be more local jobs in that year also, he said.
To learn more about the project, residents can log onto the FERC website at, Mr. Swift said. The docket number for the proposed project is PF12-9.
The website for the company is