Produce the agreements that allegedly justify need:
Based on all of the above. it does not require much of a leap to assume that SST is planning to take people’s private property for private profit by enabling one of its parent owners.
Filed with FERC 14 November 2014, Comment of Gloria Gaines under PF14-1, submitted on behalf of State Representative Winfred Dukes.
State of Georgia
House of Representatives
REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 154
407 S. SLAFPEY BLVD
ALBANY, GEORGIA 31701
(229) 353-8537 (O)
(229) 883-2188 (F)
COVERDELL LEGISLATIVE OFFICE BUILDING
ATLANTA. GA 30334
FAX (404) 651-8086
AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM
November 6, 2014
Ms. Kimberly Bose
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, NE
Washington, DC, 20426
Re: Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC,
Docket No PFl4-1-000
Dear Ms. Bose:
I am Writing as the Geogia State House Representative for District 154 on behalf of my constituents to express my concern regarding Sabal Trail Transmission’s (SST) proposed natural gas pipeline through my district in southwest Georgia. More specifically I have the following concerns:
- Whether the pipeline is needed in the first instance;
- Whether SST is appropriately using the threat of eminent domain to acquire access to my constituents’ private property and, relatedly, whether SST’s proposed pipeline will actually be used for a public purpose that would justify the use of eminent domain to take peoples’ private property;
- Whether SST’S preferred route through the most populated area of southwest Georgia is appropriate given that this pipeline supposedly is being built to transport natural gas primarily from Gulf Coast states at a point beginning in Choctaw County, Alabama to south-central Florida and will benefit only Florida customers;
- Whether SST’s proposed compressor station location in Albany. Georgia is appropriate as it will be in a populated African-American neighborhood and near the City of Albany’s drinking water supply;
- Whether SST’s preferred route is a safe one given that it will run through miles of unstable karst terrain that is rife with sinkhole activity;
- Whether the safety record of Spectra Energy, one of the owners of SST, should preclude SST from constructing this proposed pipeline.
As further discussed below, my concerns outlined above have led me to conclude that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should determine that this pipeline is not needed or, alternatively, that it should not run through Georgia.
First, SST has not demonstrated that this pipeline is needed. As noted by the Environmental Protection Agency in its scoping comments submitted to FERC in April 2014, nationally, clcctricity demand is declining. And although Florida Power & Light, for whom this pipeline is being built, claims in its ten year plan filed with the Florida Public Service Commission that demand in Florida will increase by 13%, neither FPL nor SST has explained why it needs a third pipeline in Florida that will transport 50% more natural gas than is currently available in Florida. Additionally, FPL has acknowledged that it needs only 400,000 dth/day by 2017 and 600,000 dth/day by 2021, yet this massive 36 inch proposed pipeline will transport twice that amount ~800,000 dth/day by 2017 and 1,100,000 dth/day by 2021.
Contrary to SST’s representations, there is still existing natural gas pipeline capacity in Florida. In fact, in 2010, the Florida Public Service Commission found that a natural gas pipeline proposed by FPL was not needed. Soon thereafter, the current Governor of Florida. who owns stock in Spectra Energy, replaced the Florida PSC Commissioners with ones who now support Spectra’s pipeline being built by SST for FPL. This raises a serious conflict of interest question regarding the true motivation for the Florida PSC’s finding of need.
Additionally. SST has attempted to justify a need for this pipeline based upon supposed precedent agreements with third parties to purchase the natural gas, yet SST steadfastly refuses to produce those agreements for examination. As a result, landowners whose property will be taken for the construction of this pipeline have not been given the opportunity to review the agreements and possibly show that they do not justify the construction of this highly intrusive pipeline. It is not unusual for such agreements to contain terms and conditions that limit the actual amount of natural gas that will be purchased. the period of time it must be purchased, and whether it must be purchased at all. SST’s claim that any such agreements contain proprietary terms that cannot be disclosed rings hollow when similar types of agreements are routinely disclosed in rate-making proceedings before public service commissions pursuant to appropriately limited non-disclosure agreements or by redacting truly proprietary terms. Several of my constituents have agreed to sign an appropriate non-disclosure agreement or to the production of appropriately redacted precedent agreements, yet SST refuses to produce the agreements. FERC’s environmental staff also has refused to require the disclosure of these agreements despite its repeated statements that it will insure an open and transparent process.
Serious questions regarding the terms of any precedent agreements and the necessity of this pipeline based upon those agreements is exemplified by recent statements from Duke Energy who supposedly has signed a precedent agreement to purchase some of the natural gas that would be transported by the SST pipeline. Duke Energy has stated repeatedly that it does not need the SST pipeline for a $1.5 billion power plant it is constructing in Citrus County, Florida because it can purchase the necessary natural gas from the existing Florida Gas Transmission pipeline. As stated by Duke Energy spokesperson Heather Danehower in May of this year. “[t]he Citrus County combined—cycle gas plant is not dependent on the proposed Sabal Trail Transmission [pipeline] being approved and constructed. If the Sabal Trail Transmission pipeline is not approved and constructed, we would pursue natural gas transportation from existing providers in Florida.“1 And on July 14, 2014, Mark Landsiedel general manager of Duke Energy’s major energy projects, reiterated that there are two other accessible natural gas pipelines that Duke could use to meet its needs for its new Citrus County natural gas plant, and the plant would therefore he built regardless of whether SST’s pipeline is approved and built.2
1 See “Natural-Gas Plant Not Tied to Pipeline Completion,” Citrus County Chronicle at http://www.chronicleonline.com/content/natural-gas-plant-not-tied-pipeline-completion (May 30, 2014).
2 See “Utility Will Build Plant With Or Without New Pipeline”, Ocala Banner Herald at http://www.ocala.com/article/20140714/ARTICLES/140719850 (July 14, 2014).
These statements from Duke Energy belie the heart of SST’s argument that this pipeline is needed in Florida because other pipelines have insufficient capacity. Again, if SST is going to rely on precedent agreements to justify taking people’s private property by eminent domain, it should at least be required to produce the agreements. I am therefore requesting that either FERC make the agreements available to my constituents or require SST to do so. It is critical that the permitting process be transparent. Given that this pipeline cannot be approved unless a need for it is demonstrated, the documentation SST is relying on for showing that need must be disclosed. Fundamental due process demands no less.
Furthermore, as the EPA also noted in its scoping comments, much, if not most, of the anticipated increase in energy demand projected in Florida can be met by energy efficiency measures EPA specifically noted that since 1980, the Bonneville Power Administration has met 50% of energy growth in the Pacific Northwest by energy efficiency measures while serving significantly more customers than FPL. Moreover, FPL could further meet any projected increase in demand by relying on solar and wind generated power. Florida obtains a dismal 0% of its power from wind energy even though it could purchase such power from states more adapted to producing it such as Oklahoma. Both Georgia Power and Alabama Power have just this year agreed to Sign purchase power agreements with wind energy producers out west. With respect to solar, the Sunshine State now ranks a dismal 18th place nationally when it comes to solar power even though the Department of Energy says that Florida has the best potential for rooftop solar east of the Mississippi and third best potential in the entire country. In sum, energy efficiency measures coupled with the development and use of renewable energy would more than meet any projected increase in energy demand in Florida. SST simply has not met its burden to show that its proposed pipeline is needed.
Second, 1 have been informed of numerous complaints by my constituents that SST has been implicitly and explicitly threatening private property owners with the use of eminent domain if those landowners do not allow SST on their property. SST has no right to threaten my constituents with eminent domain when it has not even yet applied for a permit, much less obtained one. The entire regulatory process has been tainted by these inappropriate threats. I am requesting that FERC inform Sabal and its agents that it must cease invoking the threat of eminent domain until and if this proposed pipeline is approved. I am also requesting that FERC inform SST and its agents that it has no right to survey the property of any landowner without that landowner’s consent.
As I am sure FERC is aware, eminent domain may only be used to take property for a public purpose. As noted above, however, it is questionable whether SST’S proposed pipeline will be used for a public purpose. The pipeline will transport double the amount of natural gas needed in Florida even if SST’s statements of need are accepted. Where will the rest of the natural gas be used? All indications are that it will be exported for profit. I am aware that SST has not made any representations that the natural gas from this proposed pipeline will be exported for profit. However, FERC should not bury its head in the sand and ignore the reality that this pipeline is not needed to meet Florida’s energy needs and that the pipeline will transport double the amount of natural gas that even FPL claims it needs.
On November 13, 2013, shortly afier SST requested permission to use FERC’s pre-filing process, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy approved Advanced Energy Solutions’ application to export liquefied natural gas in an amount equivalent to 8 billion cubic feet per year from storage facilities in Martin County, Florida.3 The SST proposed pipeline is part of the Southeast Market Pipelines Project that includes the Florida Southeast Connection (FSC) pipeline. The SST pipeline will Connect to the FSC pipeline south of Orlando. The FSC pipeline will connect to FPL’s Martin Clean Energy Center in Martin County, Florida, and the Martin Clean Energy Center, via other existing pipelines, will connect to Advanced Energy Solutions’ export facility. Thus, SST will clearly be in a position to export natural gas from its proposed pipeline.
Spectra’s CEO, Greg Ebel, has made no secret of Spectra’s intent to export fracked natural gas. At least as early as June 2012. Boomberg News reported that Mr. Ebel had indicated that Spectra’s pipelines “go right by” several facilities on the Gulf Coast that were being proposed for conversion from import to export LNG facilities and that Spectra expected that it would be involved in all of them.4 Mr. Ebel further noted that it would simpler to export from the Gulf Coast than from parts of Canada where some facility conversions were taking place because Spectra has existing pipelines in the Gulf Coast area. Similarly, if the Southeast Market Pipelines Project: which includes the SST and FSC pipelines, is approved, Spectra will have pipelines that ultimately connect to the Advanced Energy Solutions LNG export facility.
3 “Order Granting Long-Term Multi-Contract Authorization to Export Liquefied Natural Gas in ISO Containers Loaded at the Floridian Facility in Martin County, Florida, and Exported Via Oeean-Going Vessel to Free Trade-Agreement Nations in Central American and the Caribbean.” in the case of Advanced Energy Solutions, LLC. DOE/FE Order No. 3360, FE Docket No. 13-104-LNG http://www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/gasregulation/authorizations/Orders_Issued_2013/ord3360.pdf (November 14, 2013).
4 See “Spectra Expects to Be Involved in North American LNG Exports,” http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-17/spectra-expects-to-be-involved-in-north-american-lng-exports.html (last visited October 14, 2014).
Based on all of the above. it does not require much of a leap to assume that SST is planning to take people’s private property for private profit by enabling one of its parent owners, Spectra Energy, to export the natural gas that will be transported in its pipeline. This is not a public purpose and should not be approved by FERC. i am not opposed to a private company making a profit. However, I am strongly opposed to a private company making a private profit by taking other people’s private property under the draconian procedure of eminent domain.
Third, I am opposed to this pipeline because it will run through the most populated area of Southwest Georgia without any benefit to Georgia, All of the natural gas, at best, will be for the benefit of Florida consumers or, at worst, exported for private profit. SST’s pipeline will transport natural gas that comes from Texas to Southwest Alabama, The natural gas will then proceed in a northeasterly direction through Alabama before turning to come back in a southeasterly direction through Georgia. This makes no sense. A much more direct route is to go through the Florida Panhandle. SST can either co-locate with the SGT pipeline in the Panhandle or, better yet, coordinate to upgrade that pipeline just as it is doing with the Transco pipeline in Alabama.
Moreover. SST’s preferred route through Georgia goes through many miles of unsafe karst terrain that is rife with sinkhole activity. My constituents have documented sinkholes on their property along SST’s preferred route. Recently, a pipeline constructed through karst terrain in Tennessee collapsed, so this is not a remote possibility Pipeline collapse can cause explosions, fire, and contamination of groundwater essential for drinking water and agriculture. At the Very least, the route needs to be moved out of populated areas and out of dangerous karst terrain.
Fourth; SST’s proposed compressor station location in a populated African-American neighborhood and near the City of Albany’s drinking water supply is abominable FERC’s regulations require that compressor stations be sited in an unobtrusive location away from populated areas.5 In FERC’S September 25) 2014 letter to SST, FERC merely required SST to describe measures that SST would take to minimize the visual impacts of the compressor station. This is not nearly enough and gives the perception to the public at large that SST’s purchase, at an inflated price, of the land for its compressor station site has already received FERC’s approval even though SST has not yet even applied for its pemiit. Negative impacts from compressor stations include noise, pollution, and a decrease in private property values, Any compressor station in Georgia must be moved to an unobtrusive and unpopulated area.
5See 18 C.F.R. Section 330.15.
Fifth, I am very concerned about Spectra Energy’s safety record and urge FERC to review that record carefully. Spectra is proposing to build this pipeline as part of a joint venture with NextEra Energy — the company that owns FPL. Somewhat ironically, NextEra is a leading developer of solar energy, yet it has an abysmal record in Florida on solar energy, with this proposed pipeline being a prime example. In any event, because Spectra is involved with this project, its safety record is highly relevant. That record, according to the federal Pipeline Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration (PHMSA) shows that Spectra has had at least 21 safety-related incidents since 2006 resulting in $8.5 million in property damage. On December 21 , 2012, PHMSA fined Spectra $13,500 for additional violations of safety regulations. In 1989, long after the dangers of PCBs were well-known, a Spectra company (Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation) was fined a record $15 million for illegally discharging PCBs at 89 pipeline sites From Texas to New Jersey, The cleanup cost an estimated $500 million plus oversight costs of $14 to $18 million and took three years to complete. The Spectra company tried to cover up the contamination. in March 2013, after initially claiming mat no incident had occurred, Spectra finally admitted that an explosion had occurred at Spectra’s Steckman Ridge compressor station in Bedford County. Pennsylvania resulting in the release of 43 1,500 cubic feet of volatile methane gas and other polluting hydrocarbons. In 2004, Spectra’s underground natural gas storage reservoir outside of Houston experienced a catastrophic failure with two explosions, over six days offire, and two evacuations. Numerous other catastrophic incidents have occurred by Spectra companies resulting in scores of injuries and several deaths. In short, Spectra’s safety record does not lend any confidence to how it will manage this proposed pipeline and certainly weighs heavily against locating it and its associated compressor station in the most populated area of Southwest Georgia.
Based on all of the above, I am requesting mat FERC do the following:
- find that SST has not met its burden to show that its proposed pipeline is needed;
- require SST to produce its supposed precedent agreements to community representatives including Dinorah Hall with the Kiokee-Flint Group and her counsel, Steven D. Caley, This may be done pursuant to a non-disclosure agreement if FERC finds that such an agreement is appropriate;
- require that SST produce all data it has utilized for choosing its preferred route and for rejecting alternative routes including all field reconnaissance, aerial photography, USGS topographic maps, GIS data from county, state and federal sources, and state, natural resource, and land use data layers;
- issue a directive to SST that under no circumstances may it implicitly or explicitly use the threat of eminent domain to gain access to private property or to persuade property owners to support its proposed pipeline;
- at the very least, give serious consideration and analysis to alternative routes that avoid Georgia altogether, that avoid unstable geologic areas such as karst and sink-hole prone areas, that minimize impacts to drinking water and agricultural water supplies, and that minimize impacts to wildlife habitat, forests, wetlands, streams, and rivers;
- at the very least, reject SST’s proposed compressor station location and required that any compressor station be located in an unobtrusive and unpopulated area= taking into account environmental justice concerns; and
- give serious consideration to Spectra’s safety record
I would like to thank you for your consideration and would appreciate receiving a mitten response to the concerns I have raised.
State House Representative