Many of you have received notices from one of the following power affiliations, FPL, Sabal Trail or Spectra Energy. OSFR has been making inquiries on our River’s behalf. This is what we have learned….
This gas pipeline is in early planning stages and the power companies are doing preliminary speculation work between the Ichetucknee River, (along side the I. River) and the Santa Fe River (somewhere between the Blue Springs/Ginnie Springs system and the 129 Bridge). The companies plan to dig under the water channel and place a gas pipeline here. There is an existing gas pipeline under the Santa Fe River that was built several years ago, just up river from the 129 Bridge.
Our Santa Fe River has concerns about any digging in this karst terrain with our Florida treasures found in the springs, sucks, swallets, siphons and estevelles. The Santa Fe River is not only home to one of the largest concentrations of Springs found in Florida, but it is also a vulnerable recharge for the Floridan Aquifer.
I had a long conversation with a staff member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, 2 weeks ago. This office is fielding several calls from our area. They are aware that citizens are concerned about putting this gas pipeline here.
There is no PF Docket # and therefor there is no paperwork filed yet at this agency about a gas pipeline under the Santa Fe River or Ichetucknee River in north central Florida. In other words, they do not want any science comments from us nor will they record most of our discussion as there is no place to file it anywhere. However, they were able to help me understand the process at hand.
The companies involved, Sabal Trail, FPL and/or Spectra Energy, are doing, what they referred to as a “chicken and egg approach”. The power company will put out feelers, contacts, anything they can do to see what the public interest is in a given area to see how much flack or acceptance on a speculation project BEFORE they even apply for a permit from FERC. The companies are also marketing a need for the gas at the same time; as they need to have a justification to go through the expense of building the pipeline too.
While there are no laws regarding someone contacting you through the mail or a phone call. There are local laws that would apply if you do not want these people on your property. If they knock on your door, you can ask them to leave and say that you are not interested. You are not under any obligation to sign anything from them. In fact, FERC highly recommends that you do not sign ANYTHING without consultation with someone you trust. If the company uses intimidating tactics on you don’t succumb to the pressure, “an easement agreement is forever”.
Formal comments from citizens with FERC will occur, when and if one of these companies files for a PF Docket # and when that happens FERC begins the scoping prospect regarding the pipeline groundwork. At some point this Docket # becomes a CP Docket # and then the State can proceed with a utility survey; I understand this is when the eminent domain terminology would apply. Some companies have been known to do this chicken and egg thing for years.
Frankly, it is good that we are in the forefront of this pipeline groundwork between and under the Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers. We must be diligent. As we have seen already, the companies have backed off their original plans to put the pipeline under a specified area of the Ichetucknee River. OSFR believes the location needs to be somehow in a place where drilling will not influence any of our vulnerable springsheds. FERC said it is about supply and demand for the location of the pipe. And the fact that there is a pipe already laid may have some bearing on any future pipes.
“FERC denies very few projects”.