Pipeline delayed for a year

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Owen County Fiscal Court had formally opposed project

By Molly Haines

A controversial pipeline project that the Owen County Fiscal Court took a stand against last year has been delayed.
The announcement came Feb. 19, when the energy company Williams, one half of the partnership behind the Bluegrass Pipeline, announced its year-end 2013 financial results.
Despite the delay, Williams CEO Alan Armstrong said the company continues to communicate with potential customers.
“. . . We are moving the target in-service timing of the joint-venture Bluegrass Pipeline project to mid-to-late 2016 to better align with the needs of producers,” Armstrong said in a release. “We continue to engage in ongoing discussions with potential customers regarding commitments to this large-scale, integrated solution that connects Marcellus-Utica natural gas liquids to diverse domestic markets, fractionation, storage and export facilities in the Gulf Coast.”
The project originally had a targeted in-service date of late 2015.
The Bluegrass Pipeline was developed by Williams and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LP, and would transport natural-gas liquids from gas-drilling operations in the northeastern United States to processing plants on the Gulf of Mexico.
According to the release delaying the pipeline will better align the needs of producers.
“The new timeframe is more consistent with evolving market conditions as the Bluegrass Pipeline continues ongoing discussions with potential customers regarding commitments to the pipeline, fractionation, storage and export services,” the release said.
Bluegrass Pipeline LLC announced an open season last fall that was expected to run from Oct. 29 to Dec. 16
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s website, an open season is held to gauge the level of market interest.
Boardwalk announced in early December that it would extend the open season to Jan. 17, in response to requests of interested shippers needing additional time to evaluate the pipeline project and project’s market outlet.
According to the EIA, if not enough interest is evident during the open season, a project will most likely be dropped or placed on indefinite hold.
Owen County Judge-executive Carolyn Keith said Tuesday her major concern with the project continues to be a lack of training for first responders in a rural county.
“Our first responders just don’t have the training in those types of substances that they would need if there were an emergency situation,” Keith said.
In Owen County, the Bluegrass Pipeline is expected to go through Leaning Oak Road near Corinth.  
One of the concerns expressed by private citizens and lawmakers is the potential use of eminent domain, which would force landowners to sell their property if the project is deemed necessary for wide-ranging economic growth.
On Feb. 19, Gov. Steve Beshear endorsed legislation that would hinder development of the Bluegrass Pipeline, by clarifying that state law does not give developers of private projects condemnation powers, the Courier-Journal said.
Beshear said the would “welcome legislation” clarifying existing law does not permit companies to use eminent domain for private projects like the Bluegrass Pipeline.
According to the newspaper, the House Judiciary Committee held the first hearing on House Bill 31 Feb. 19, which would prohibit private developers of natural gas liquids pipelines from being able to acquire property rights through condemnation.
According to the newspaper, the committee ran out of time to vote on the measure after two hours of testimony, but Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, said there was still plenty of time to move the bill through the process.