Developers are planning to build a natural gas pipeline that would cross through Lorain County.
Representatives of the Nexus Gas Transmission project, a proposed pipeline that would carry natural gas across Ohio and Michigan and into Ontario, recently sent letters to residents in Lorain County seeking permission to access property to perform surveying activities.
Nexus representatives said if the project moves forward, they intend to have construction of the 250-mile, 36-inch pipeline, which would be buried at least three feet in the ground, finished by the fourth quarter of 2017.
Erica Donerson, a spokeswoman for Detroit-based DTE Energy Co., one of the lead developers in the energy consortium undertaking the project, said land surveys will help developers pinpoint the pipeline route.
“Landowners received survey letters this week,” Donerson said. “We are in the preliminary stages of this project.”
According to a map provided by Houston-based Spectra Energy Corp., another lead developer of the Nexus project, the proposed pipeline would run east and west through 11 counties in Ohio, including Lorain, Medina, Erie and Sandusky.
The letter sent to homeowners says surveys will help “determine the pipeline path with the least overall landowner, community and environmental impact, while balancing constructability concerns.”
Survey work is scheduled to begin in September, and “in those areas where Nexus is proposing to construct the new pipeline it will be necessary to determine a location for the proposed line, availability of temporary construction work areas and potential construction access roads.”
LaGrange Township Trustee Rita Canfield said township trustees are aware of the letters sent to homeowners.
“It’s going to be a big line,” Canfield said. “Once we have a chance to look through this, I’m sure we’ll discuss it at our meeting.”
Trustee Douglas Gardner said he’s eager to learn more and address any safety concerns.
“We’re just trying to keep our eyes and ears open and find out which way it’s going to go,” Gardner said. “Hopefully any safety concerns will be addressed as well as the impact it’s going to have on people.”
Oberlin Council member Bryan Burgess said 20 to 25 families in the city have properties that could be affected by the pipeline. He also said Oberlin passed a community rights and obligations ordinance last year prohibiting the construction of natural gas pipelines within city limits.
“I’ve been clued in that this pipeline might conflict with the ordinance that was passed, but we’re not sure what will happen yet,” Burgess said.
Medina residents have received similar letters in the mail, informing them that the tentative route for the pipeline is on their properties. Mario Pascolini said he received a second letter Monday from Spectra Energy asking for permission to survey his property and stake out where the pipeline would go.
“I’m not giving them my permission,” he said.
Arthur Diestel, spokesman for the Nexus Gas Transmission project, said the pipeline would increase the reliability of the region’s energy delivery systems.
Not everyone agrees. John Elder, a member of Communities for Safe and Sustainable Energy in Oberlin, said the pipeline is needed only because the gas that supplied eastern Canada from western Canada is no longer available since petroleum tar sands production requires large amounts of natural gas for heating and processing.
“The gas that used to be available isn’t, so they have to get their gas from other sources including eastern Ohio,” Elder said. “This gas is not for our use in Ohio. It’s to compensate for tar sands production.”
Dietsel said this isn’t the case. The Nexus project would provide affordable, clean natural gas to the Midwest, Chicago and the Dawn hub in Ontario, he said.
Elder said he and other residents are researching the rights of Ohio landowners to deny access to surveyors.
“I understand that in New York state, a pipeline proposal was shelved because so many of the landowners did not allow the surveyors on their land,” Elder said.
Dietsel said project representatives intend to provide communities with more information as the pipeline project progresses.
“There will be quite a few opportunities to come out and talk to us,” Dietsel said. “We want to listen to any concerns that landowners have. Stringent safety standards govern the transportation, distribution and use of natural gas.”
The Nexus Gas Transmission project should not be confused with the Avon Lake NRG Plant’s proposed 20-mile natural gas line, for which NRG representatives are trying to obtain easements. This pipeline would carry natural gas from the Grafton area to the power plant on Lake Road, which has plans to convert from coal to natural gas by the spring of 2016.
David Gaier, spokesman for NRG, said they are aware of the Nexus project but are not involved with it in any way.
Medina Gazette reporter Katie Anderson contributed to this story.