Monday in Albany, Tuesday in Moultrie, and tonight in Valdosta, the pipeline roadshow is rolling through Georgia towards Florida. These are not public hearings or town halls: the pipeline company seems to be trying to get landowners in the path to show up, but anybody can attend.
Brad McEwen wrote for the Albany Herald yesterday, Residents attend pipeline forum,
Sabal Trail Transmission LLC, which is a joint venture between energy giants Spectra Energy Corp. and NextEra Energy Inc., hosted the event to give citizens an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the proposed project.
Set up like an open house, the forum had 15 Sabal Trail subject matter experts on hand to greet residents and walk them through a variety of information stations covering different subjects related to the pipeline.
Each station contained general information about building and maintaining a pipeline, as well as information about the Sabal Trail project, which came about in response to Florida Power and Light announcing its intent to use natural gas for its power generation needs.
The project, with an estimated construction cost of nearly $3 billion, will carry natural gas from western Alabama to southern Florida through 465 miles of pipeline. Approximately 19 miles of the pipeline are slated to run through western Dougherty County.
And probably about 19 miles through each of Brooks and Lowndes Counties, too.
Some of those in attendance, however, felt the open house was not what they expected, saying it offered little information on impact specific to Dougherty County and those residents closest to the proposed route.
Dinorah Hall, who has been a spokesperson for residents who will be directly impacted if the pipeline crosses on or near their property, said she found the format confusing and not conducive to residents looking for specific answers to tough questions.
“I think it was a good P.R. event,” said Hall. “I felt they were selling the company. There was no real opportunity for hard-core questions.”
Hall said she — along with many others who are concerned about the project — was hoping for a more formal event where citizens could ask questions to which the answers would be given more publicly.
“How’s this really going to benefit the people of Dougherty County?” asked Hall. “This thing caught everybody by surprise.”
These are not the town halls Spectra has been promising.
Monday’s forum was the first of many area events Sabal Transmission plans to host, as the project moves toward a projected May 2017 completion date.
Although dates have not been set, Grover said the company will host a meeting in November to discuss the building of a compressor station in Dougherty County. The station, which would sit on approximately 60 acres that have not been chosen, would help move nearly 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas through the pipeline daily.
Grover also said a second general public information meeting will be held in Albany given residents another opportunity to gather information. Grover said representatives from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will also be in attendance at the December event.
Andrea Grover told me last night Moultrie that there would a meeting with FERC in attendance in Valdosta, as well. She didn’t know exactly when.