Moultrie Observer

Local News

December 14, 2013

Sabal Trail gas pipeline 'quite a way off,' officials say

MOULTRIE — After scheduling meetings on two of the busiest days in Colquitt County, the group behind a proposed natural gas pipeline say they will be back.

In the interim, Sabal Trail, a joint venture of two energy companies, will be trying to convince hold-outs who have refused to allow surveying crews onto their land.

Sabal Trail hosted an information meeting 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday at Moultrie Technical College — coinciding with Moultrie’s Christmas parade at 6 p.m. downtown. It was the second such meeting; a similar one was held Oct. 15, the first day of the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition.

In Colquitt County about 90 percent of those whose land could lie in the path of the massive pipeline have either given permission or allowed workers onto their land without objection. For neighboring Mitchell County the figure is about 77 percent.

There are 220 affected properties in Colquitt Count and 57 in Mitchell County, according to information presented at Thursday’s meeting. Thirteen landowners here have said no, while there are 10 still refusing in Mitchell County.

The proposed pipeline is in the interim stages, with Sabal Trail having notified the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of intentions to examine a pipeline project of 465 miles from Tallapoosa County, Ala., to Osceola County, Fla., near Orlando.

The company earlier had looked at a more northerly route, but is now examining an alternate route that would cut a longer swath through Colquitt County.

The route that would see the pipeline come in the northwestern part of the county and through to Brooks County to the southeast could be the preferred route due to an existing pipeline, FERC officials at the meeting said.

FERC oversees interstate gas pipelines, pricing and pipeline rates.

The route now being surveyed runs adjacent to a natural gas pipeline that was built in the 1950s.

Behind the surveyors will come environmental and cultural preservation studies. More meetings with the public will follow before the company files a formal application, and the agency would give the opportunity for written comments and hold public hearings.

“It’s quite a way out,” FERC representative Jim Martin said.

A third informational meeting will be scheduled for January or February, Sabal Trail officials said.

The company expects the $3.2 billion project to start in early summer of 2016 and to be in service in May 2017.

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