Atlantic Sunrise Route Changed

atlanticsun-map-01By Mark Gilger, Jr.,

The Williams Companies Inc. has submitted its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission application for its proposed pipeline in Pennsylvania with about half of the route being changed from the original plans, a company representative said.

An energy company based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, The Williams Companies Inc. wants to expand its Transco pipeline to connect the natural gas fields in northern Pennsylvania to markets in the Mid-Atlantic and southeastern states by 2017.

Dubbed the “Atlantic Sunrise Project,” the proposed expansion of the existing Transco natural gas pipeline would add about 180 miles of new 42-inch, high-pressure pipeline to reach Susquehanna County, transporting about 1.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day that can serve about 7 million homes. The section of the new lines called the Central Penn Line South would run from Lancaster County to Susquehanna County and include about 18 miles of pipeline through five townships in the western part of Schuylkill County, entering from East Cameron Township, Northumberland County, and running underground through Eldred, Hegins, Frailey, Tremont and Pine Grove townships in Schuylkill County, to Union Township, Lancaster County, through Swatara State Park.

The company filed its application with FERC on March 31. FERC then issued a request for additional information Tuesday, May 19. The Williams Companies has 20 days to file the requested information.

“It’s a huge milestone for us in the regulatory process,” Chris Stockton, a Williams representative, said. “Essentially, it represents about a year of data gathering and meeting with landowners and other stakeholders to come up with the best route, identify any potential issues and try to address those issues the best we can.”

FERC is an independent federal agency that regulates the interstate transmission of natural gas, oil and electricity as well as natural gas and hydropower projects, according to its website at Approval of the project would grant Williams the use of eminent domain, a right given to the company by statute to take private land.

About half of the overall route and 57 percent of the CPL South line has changed since last year, according to the Williams Companies website at There were more than 100 individual changes to the route. Some of the changes are a few hundred feet while others are a mile, Stockton said.

“That is a direct result from landowners,” Stockton said. “We have been listening to the feedback that we have received and we think the application represents that.”

About 85 percent of the route has been surveyed, Stockton said. That work has revealed changes that needed to be made, but the company also wanted to accommodate landowners with future plans for their property.

Stockton said just because a landowner denies the company access to their property for surveying does not mean they will be able to reroute the pipeline. The company can use existing data if they are not permitted to survey. However, Stockton recommended landowners wanting to reroute the pipeline work with the company.

“From our perspective, it really is in their best interest to do that because it is their opportunity to influence that route,” Stockton said. “There is really no way to know that unless we have dialogue with the landowner. If we can accommodate their request, we are going to do our best to do that.”

Stockton said route modifications will continue to be made. The next milestone for the project will be submitting an environmental impact statement in the fall, followed by additional hearings, he said.

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