Texas Eastern Transmissions plans gas pipeline improvements in Lebanon County

One of the nation's largest natural-gas-transmission companies is making plans to expand a pipeline that passes through the Lebanon Valley.

Houston-based Texas Eastern Transmission, a division of Spectra Energy Corp., is seeking federal regulatory approval to install 33.6 miles of new, 36-inch diameter pipeline and other related above-ground facilities in Lebanon, Dauphin, Berks, Fayette and Perry counties. The underground pipeline carries the natural gas produced in the western part of Pennsylvania and distributes it throughout the country.

The work is a small part of Texas Eastern's massive $520 million Texas Eastern Appalachia to Market Expansion, or TEAM 2014 Project, which also includes installations and

Poles along side Old Jonestown Road in East Hanover Township indicate the location of Texas Eastern Transmission s pipelines. The Houston-based natural gas company plans to expand the pipeline to handle the natural gas produced from Marcellus Shale.

(John Latimer / Lebanon Daily News)

upgrades in several other states to meet customer demand, said Marylee Hanley, director of stakeholder outreach for Spectra Energy.

"We have two segments of pipeline in Lebanon county for a total of 6.4 miles of new pipeline in the existing right-of-way," she said. "Our customers require additional capacity on the system, and we are what is considered an open-access pipeline, so we are required to provide the service. We are just meeting the demand of our customers."

The company hopes to begin the work in November 2014. It is currently in the regulatory approval phase of the project and recently filed a notification with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The company's notice stated that "the TEAM 2014 Project will efficiently and cost-effectively expand the Texas Eastern system to accommodate increased natural gas production from the Appalachian region and deliver these critically needed natural gas supplies to diverse markets in the Northeast, Midwest, Southeast and Gulf Coast."

The portion of the project involving Lebanon County would add approximately 2.5 miles of natural gas pipeline adjacent to its existing pipeline in North Annville and East Hanover townships and another 3.8 miles of pipeline along its existing pipeline in Swatara, North Lebanon, Bethel, and Jackson townships, according to Texas Eastern's recent legal advertisement.

The pipeline was originally installed in 1954, and a portion of it runs underneath Keith Oellig's 120-acre steer and crop farm in East Hanover Township, Dauphin County, just west of the Lebanon County line near Route 81.

Oellig said the pipeline was installed while his father farmed the land and has since been replaced at least once.

He said he was not aware of the upcoming project but noted that representatives of the company visited his land last fall to do some test drilling.

The location of the pipelines on his land are recognizable only by the bright-orange markers indicating them, but Oellig pointed out that its path can be detected in early spring because it warms the soil, making it green up faster, and also when it snows.

"You could tell how much gas is moving by how fast the snow melts," he said.

The company is required to contact property owners and the townships that are impacted so that they have the opportunity to file comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Hanley said.

"FERC will then review all of the comments and respond to them and then begin the review process," she said.

Hanley said she could not predict how long that process will take.

"It is up to FERC. It is their timeline," she said. "Our next step is to hope for FERC approval."

Texas Eastern Transmission's filing and instructions for submitting a comment on the project can be found at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission website, ferc.gov. The comment deadline is April 5. They can be sent electronically by linking to the website or by sending them to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First St., NE, Washington D.C. 20426.

johnlatimer@ldnews.com; 717-272-5611, ext. 149