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Sabal Trail pipeline in works for Citrus

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Public meeting in Williston Dec. 9

  By Pat Faherty

pfaherty@chronicleonline.com

A natural gas pipeline planned for Citrus County would connect to the proposed Sabal Trail pipeline.

County officials and county landowners who could be affected have already been contacted regarding surveying for possible right of way. 

This month, residents will have opportunities to get more information on the proposed 24-inch diameter Citrus County pipeline and the Sabal Trail project, which will affect about a dozen Florida counties.

Last July, Spectra Energy announced that Sabal Trail Transmission, a joint venture of Spectra and NextEra  Energy Inc., had been awarded a 465-mile interstate natural gas pipeline project by Florida Power & Light Company (FPL).

Spectra is a Duke Energy spinoff, becoming its own entity in 2007.

The concept was approved by the Florida Public Service Commission in October.

Sabal Trail will construct the more-than-1-billion-cubic-feet-per-day, 36-inch diameter pipeline originating in Alabama, running through Georgia and ending in Osceola County southeast of Orlando. 

The pipeline to deliver gas into Citrus County would connect with Sabal Trail in Marion County, according to Spectra Energy spokeswoman Andrea Grover. 

As proposed, Sabal Trail will pass through Levy, Marion and Sumter counties. It will run just east of Citrus and was originally not expected to impact the county. An above-ground compressor station is planned for Dunnellon.

Initial cost estimates are in the range of $3 billion with the subsequent creation of construction jobs and ongoing tax revenues.

To address public concerns, a series of public meetings are being held along the Sabal Trail corridor and one in Citrus Springs, which will include the connector.

“These will have a very open-house format,” Grover said. “Subject-matter experts; right of way, survey, construction, environmental considerations, will be on hand.” 

“It will be informal, people can ask questions,” she said. “We just want to provide more information about the project.” 

WWALS, a coalition for South Georgia/North Florida watershed conservation of the Willacoochee, Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Little River systems has come out against Sabal Trail.

It has filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as an intervener opposing the project.

Among its concerns, the group cites impacts on the Withlacoochee River, wetlands and recharge zones for the Floridian Aquifer. 

According to documents filed with FERC, Sabal Trail intends to submit a first draft of all Environmental Resource Reports by June 2014.