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Millennium Pipeline looking to inform public on new project

Posted on: April 5th, 2016

Story by Fred Stabbert III

pipelineIn an effort to push more natural gas through its Millennium Pipeline, a compressor station is being planned for Sullivan County in the Town of Highland.

The $63 million project is currently in the pre-planning stages and would include building a 22,400 hp compressor near the former Eldred Preserve off Route 55 in the Town of Highland.

A public information session will be held by Millennium on Thursday, March 31 at The Sullivan in Rock Hill from 6 to 8 p.m.

“A compressor station basically forces more gas down the pipe,” Michelle Hook, Director of Public Relations for Millennium, said. “Because of where we need that pressure, Highland seemed to be the most logical spot in Sullivan County.”

The pipeline runs from western New York to Westchester County, supplying natural gas to hundreds of thousands of customers in the metropolitan area. Upgraded in 2008, the 70-year-old, 10-inch pipeline was replaced with a 24-inch to 36-inch pipeline through its entire length.

But with total demand for natural gas increasing, Millennium is looking for ways to move the gas more efficiently through its pipeline.

In 2014 it built its first compressor station in Hancock, just a mile from Sullivan County’s western border, and in 2013 it built one in Minisink, in Orange County.

Currently the company is planning on adding a second, larger compressor station – 22,400 hp – in Hancock as well as the one in the Town of Highland.

In Sullivan County, the building of the compressor station will employ 50-60 people and will be more than half a mile from any existing homes.

Upon completion, the compressor station will be manned by one to two full-time employees.

“We haven’t officially filed [to build the station],” Hook said. “There’s a lot of back and forth before our official filing in July. It then takes about a year to get approved.”

Locally, some residents and the Highland Town Board have not met Millennium with open arms.

Various residents have turned out to voice their concerns about the project, and the Town Board adopted a resolution on March 8 and opposed it.

But Hook remains confident that increased awareness about what they are doing, possible tours of an existing compressor station in action and strong community involvement might help convince residents that the project is good for the town.

“To put the numbers in context, a transmission compressor, which is what we use, has less emissions than nine wood-burning stoves,” Hook said. “Our facility will be well below all EPA emission standards.

“We urge folks to visit with a group to our Hungry Hill Compressor Station in Hancock,” she said. “You cannot hear the compressor from our gate, it is so well insulated.

“It’s a state-of-the-art, modern machine well above and beyond,” she said. “You cannot hear it outside of the compressor building.”

Hook said much of the information currently circulating about compressor stations has to do with production compressors used at fracking sites.

She said they are much different than the transmission compressors used on pipelines.

“We don’t like to lose natural gas, so our emissions are very low,” Hook said. “Venting only happens if there is a need.

“Pipelines are vented intermittently for specific reasons,” she added.

Hook said the latest in infrared, thermal imaging will be used for safety and security around the station, adding it – like the pipeline – will be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Millennium expects to break ground in Fall 2017, and take about a year to build the station.

Hook said comments, both supportive and critical, are always welcome.

“If there are people in favor, [submitting their comments to FERC] is a way for them to support us,” she said. “All comments can be anonymous.”

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