Update on Duke’s proposed Central Corridor Natural Gas Pipeline Extension
There was an OPSB Adjudicatory Hearing held from April 9 to 11, 2019 in Columbus. Present at the hearing were lawyers and experts for official Interveners, such as the City of Cincinnati, Hamilton County, NOPE, Blue Ash, Montgomery, Reading, Sycamore Township, Evendale, Columbia Township, Jewish Hospital and others. Duke’s lawyers and the Ohio Power Siting Board staff were there as well. No OPSB Board members, voting or otherwise, were present AGAIN. These Board members are appointed by the Governor and serve at his behest.
There were some revelations at the hearing, namely, the Lummus Report, which had been commissioned by Duke and highly redacted, was now made public. It came to light that there was a Western route — west of 275 that was recommended by the Report. Currently all recommended routes run right through highly populated areas of Hamilton County. NOPE’s expert, Dr. Guldmann was able to study the report in full and, though he came to the conclusion that there was not a true need for the new pipeline to serve the area, he did conclude that a pipe west of the city would be less costly, involve less risk to people and improve north/south balance better than Duke’s two proposed routes.
His study said that there is no projected population growth for Hamilton County and therefore no pressing need for the pipeline. It was also noted that there would be no real improvement to the balance of the system by either the preferred or the alternate routes. The added pipeline, as proposed, in his opinion, does not solve a balance issue.
Further, there is now a question of how the pipeline is characterized. The first proposal by Duke was for the pipeline to be 30” in diameter and 720 psi MAOP. Clearly it was intended for “Transmission.” Duke later changed that to 20” diameter and up to 500 psi. It connects on both ends to Transmission lines, yet, because of a technicality, they are labeling it a “Distribution” line. They say they will build it to Transmission line specs, but since it is a Distribution line, they will service it to that level. Distribution lines come with a lot less oversight and required maintenance. Also, once it is in the ground, changes in pressure and direction of gas can be made without any approval or oversight.
During the hearings, additional confidential information was “declassified,” revealing two leaks had occurred in a seal around a pipe in the Eastern Ave. Propane Peaking facility. This was never revealed to the public before. No leaks have been reported for the storage cavern. Duke claims that they have to close the outdated facility, yet propane peaking facilities are being built, upgraded and repaired all the time. Colorado Springs just installed a new facility for their region. Duke has also sunk quite a bit of money recently (over the last 10 years) in upgrades to the equipment in the Eastern Ave. plant. Yes, it is rate-payers’ money, so we have upgraded it.
The lawyers are now in a period of writing their briefs, which are due May 13 with rebuttal briefs due by June 10. After that, the OPSB voting members will be considering the case and come to a decision.
Please stay involved by writing Governor DeWine and letting him know what you think of this pipeline plan and how it might affect you and your community.
Please stay informed by checking the NOPE website for updates or to see the two proposed routes. Please consider contributing to the cause at nopecincy.org
To read more about these arguments and studies:
The document “Exhibits for transcript, Volume III, for hearing held on April 11, 2019. (Part 3 of 3).” Go to http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/
It begins on approximately page 9, after the tables. This is part of the trial exhibits.
We hope to have Dr. Guldmann’s report on the NOPE website shortly: https://nopecincy.org.
The testimony and other documents can be seen at http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/CaseRecord.aspx?Caseno=16-0253&link=DIVA