Natural gas may not be a pipe dream for much longer in rural Somerset and Accomack counties.I expect to see public protests before long. Urban folk will come down and protest the rural folk getting cheap reliable fuel for cooking and warming their homes.
A Baltimore-based private equity group is entering a critical new phase in its years-long campaign to build a $1.3 billion natural gas pipeline along the Delmarva Peninsula.
For the past four years, H4 Capital Partners' executives have largely been spending their energy behind the scenes, performing engineering work and stoking public and private interest in the 180-mile pipeline.
Now comes the make-or-break part: winning approval from a slew of state and federal regulators while winning over neighbors and interest groups within the project corridor.
Jerry Sanders, one of H4's partners, said the company's goal is to have gas flowing to Somerset and Accomack counties, which currently have no access to piped natural gas, by late 2021 or early 2022.
“One of the things we noticed is that the absence of natural gas is hindering overall economic development," Sanders said. “It also will result in less-expensive energy costs on the peninsula as well.”
U.S. natural gas production has zoomed to record levels in recent years amid technological advancements that have unlocked deep reserves of gas in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. Advocates for natural gas say it's cleaner and cheaper than other fossil fuels and offers a bridge to a future in which renewable energy is more plentiful and reliable.
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The project is likely to wind up in a lengthy permitting review in Maryland. Maps of the pipeline suggest it will have to cross several rivers that feed into the Chesapeake Bay, and it will encounter wetlands, said Maryland Department of the Environment spokesman Jay Apperson.
We had a gas pipeline run down the length of Calvert County, to bring fracked natural gas to the Dominion Gas Docks for liquefaction and export. It took a swathe of land about 50 yards across, and after a couple of years, you don't even see it.