February 6, 2013

Property Owners to Get Details Of Pipeline at Special Meeting

The owners of 15 tracts that would be affected by the laying of a natural gas pipeline through a 1.5-mile section of Princeton have been invited to attend a meeting on February 28 at the Municipal Building. Project engineers from Williams, the Oklahoma-based company that is proposing adding 13 miles of pipe through parts of Mercer, Hunterdon, and Somerset counties, will be on hand at the meeting to provide details of the project.

Some 29 properties between the Coventry Farms development and Cherry Valley Road are part of the Princeton portion of the proposed project, which requires laying a 42-inch gas main. According to spokesman Chris Stockton, Williams needs to increase the capacity of its Transco pipeline, which runs between New York City and Texas. Construction could start in the fall of 2014 and the pipeline could be in service by December 2015.

About 30 Princeton properties could be impacted by the work, which would necessitate the removal of rock and vegetation during construction. Easements from the property owners in what is known as the Skillman Loop will be required before construction can begin. Williams could purchase the easements and install temporary workspaces.

The new pipeline would help the Williams company meet the demand for Marcellus shale gas that is being produced in Pennsylvania. The shale contains largely untapped natural gas reserves, and its proximity to markets along the east coast makes it a desirable target for energy development.

The pipeline project, which will cost approximately $600 million, is overseen by the federal government, not individual municipalities. It has yet to gain permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Princeton’s municipal engineer Robert Kiser, introduced the Williams company’s proposal to Princeton Council on January 28, having met with the company five days before.

“The federal government really makes the determination as to when it’s approved,” he said a few days after the Council meeting. “But what the municipality has done is ask them to meet with neighbors early, as opposed to later in the process, to give them as much information as possible. Mayor Lempert has offered the use of the meeting room.”

Another Transco project, the proposed Stanton Loop, would affect homeowners in Hunterdon County areas of Readington, Franklin, Clinton, and Union.

Mr. Stockton said that an open house will be held in April. “This will be a public meeting open to anyone,” he said. “We’ll have people from engineering, environmental, operations, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on hand to answer questions and give a huge presentation with displays and maps, so everyone knows what’s going on.”