MIDDLETOWN—The Millennium Pipeline Company hosted the first in a series of open houses on March 30 to inform the public about a proposed upgrade for a 7.8 mile section of the pipeline called Huguenot Loop.
A small group protesting construction of the CPV energy center and the company’s compressor station in Hancock held signs and spoke to people as they entered.
Upgrade of the Huguenot Loop is part of the company’s Eastern System Upgrade Project that includes a new compressor unit in Hancock, new technology at the Ramapo Meter and Regulation Station, and a new compressor station in Highland.
According to the information packet provided at the open house, “biological and cultural resource surveys are conducted during the route planning stage of the project to identify potentially sensitive resources” along the pipeline’s right-of-way.
Michelle Hook, director of public relations for Millennium, said this open house was just after a prefiling to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). “This is when we use the public’s input that we get before we actually submit our official proposal which will be later this summer,” she said. The company will file its formal application in July.
Hook said the company has not received much feedback on this section of the project and stressed this had nothing to do with CPV or the Minisink compressor station that have come under fire from local residents.
The Huguenot Loop carries gas through 24-inch pipe. She said most of the pipeline around this section has 30-inch pipe. “We end up with a bottleneck of gas in this area. Hook said the company is adding a second pipe, or looping the section, to resolve the bottleneck. The upgrade runs from Huguenot into Westtown and about a mile into Minisink, Hook said.
Hancock resident Bob Sanzoverino displayed several signs around his truck informing passersby about Millennium’s relationship with his town. Sanzoverino lives on Hungry Hill Road near the Hancock compressor station.
He said, because of the town’s inexperience with large corporations, the company took advantage of the town. He said his road was destroyed, and after Millennium built the compressor station, “they never really repaired the road.”
Hook said she has spoken with Sanzoverino several times. The company paid $200,000 to the town to repair the road, $500,000 worth of rock to shore it up and paid for the labor involved. “We paid more than a million dollars in total. It was fixed.”
Sanzoverino said he does not understand how the FERC can approve the project and claimed that Millennium is exempt from all outstanding covenants and restrictions that have been in place “since the Indians.”
Hook said the only pushback they have received involves the planned Highland compressor station.
Millennium has just submitted a prefiling with FERC of what the formal application would contain. FERC will give feedback on the information. Hook said “It is a back and forth between them and us with a lot of public input until we get to our filing point in July.”
Eric Howard, archaeologist for FERC, toured the facilities and location along the pipeline and said he provided feedback. After FERC’s concerns are answered and the project is approved, Howard said the Huguenot Loop can be started in the fall of 2017 and completed the following year.
“So we are quite a ways off from shovel to ground,” Howard said.
FERC conducts the environmental review. Howard said the pipeline should avoid impact on homeowners. He reviewed aerial maps. “I’m looking to minimizing the effect to various resources, like water. They had mentioned that they are using potential methods to cross certain waterways.”
Howard said FERC listens to protests and environmental concerns in various ways. the public could talk to him directly at the open house that was in progress, write, or file online. He said some modifications are planned for the Hancock station.
According to a pamphlet by FERC available at the open house, a loop is “a segment of pipeline installed adjacent to an existing pipeline and connected to it at both ends. A loop allows more gas to be moved through the system.”
Congress has mandated that FERC evaluate whether gas pipeline projects should be approved.
Millennium’s Valley Lateral Project will connect the CPV Energy Center to the rest of Millennium’s pipeline. The public hearing for that project was held in April of last year. Hook was not working for the company at that time but “I heard there was a good turnout,” and there were protests.
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