B.G. council to decide on pipeline offer

Failing to do so would put Spectra into a position of deciding if it wants to reroute the pipeline, or attempt to gain access through eminent domain. The latter is a consideration to council members, who wonder if they’ll get as good of a deal if the city winds up in court.

“It’s difficult to predict how the vote might go. It’s potentially the best deal the city could make out of this,” Council President Michael Aspacher said. “The pipeline is likely to go through whether we grant this easement or not.”

Mr. Aspacher and Michael Marsh, city attorney, said the location is probably more important than the compensation.

1127pipelineThe city has worked out a deal for the pipeline to be laid along an electric utility corridor to minimize impact, they said.

The site in question consists of 29 acres of land several miles northwest of Bowling Green the city leases out to farmers. The land, on State Rt. 64 and King Road north of Haskins, Ohio, was acquired by the city in 2015.

Spectra wants access to approximately four of those 29 acres. The land is 2.5 miles east of the city’s water-treatment plant, Mr. Aspacher said.

The offer drew a standing-room-only crowd of about 100 people to the board’s Nov. 21 meeting, when the proposal was given a second reading. About 20 objected — many to the NEXUS project in general — and urged the council to reject Spectra’s offer.

One of them, Lisa Kochheiser, a Bowling Green resident who belongs to the Ohio Community Rights Network and the National Community Rights Network, tried to get the city to pass its own community bill of rights in 2013 in an attempt to better control how the city’s land is used. Voters rejected that proposal after Mayor Dick Edwards and the local business community criticized it as being vague and potentially stifling to economic development.

She said it’s time for the community to take a stand against the pipeline.

“If the city refuses to sign the easement, it will help jam things up just a little more,” Ms. Kochheiser said. “They should be opposing this adamantly.”

Another pipeline opponent, Paul Wohlfarth, agreed.

“This whole pipeline is unneeded,” he said.

Mayor Edwards said the Dec. 5 council meeting begins at 7 p.m.

A spokesman for the NEXUS project, Adam Parker, said the Bowling Green site is a small part of a massive project across Ohio and into Canada that is expected to generate $22.8 million in tax revenue for Wood County during the pipeline’s first five years of operation, including $13.5 million for the county’s school districts.

He cited other likely economic impacts, such as future hotel, restaurant, and store purchases by workers, but declined to say if Spectra will reroute the project or attempt to gain access through eminent domain if the council rejects the offer.

“The current route is strategically proposed because of the forecasted demand growth for natural gas in the region,” Mr. Parker said.

Spectra, the parent company of Texas Eastern Transmission, wants to build a 255-mile pipeline to move natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus Shale regions of eastern Ohio and West Virginia to markets in Ohio, Michigan, and Canada.

Part of the NEXUS pipeline is to come through nearby Waterville, where voters on Nov. 8 approved by a 60-40 majority a community bill of rights that calls for the city charter to be amended in such a way that forbids more natural gas infrastructure from being built within the city limits. Waterville will amend its charter once votes are certified by the Lucas County Board of Elections.

The project includes a plan for a controversial compressor station in Waterville Township, near Whitehouse, which several public officials have opposed.

Meanwhile, in an antitrust claim filed Nov. 16 with the Federal Trade Commission, the national Sierra Club has implored federal regulators to intervene on the grounds that DTE Electric Co., Michigan’s largest electric utility, is a major investor in the NEXUS project.

The environmental group’s contention is that DTE “has contracted to buy delivery of natural gas over the pipeline for use in generating electricity for resale to Michigan retail customers” when at least six alternative sources were available.

“Sierra Club believes that the NEXUS Project, if allowed to proceed, will cause serious distortions and suppress competition in the market for capacity to generate electricity while raising the electricity rates charged to consumers above competitive levels,” the complaint states.

“If permitted to continue, the project will likely lock-in inefficient means of producing electricity and suppress practical, more efficient and environmentally sustainable alternatives.”

Also, in a recent filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a group of affected Ohio property owners called the Coalition to Reroute Nexus, or CoRN, urged regulators to require certain segments of the pipeline be co-located with others to reduce impact.

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com, 419-724-6079, or via Twitter @ecowriterohio.