Updated 7:50 p.m.
Davidson College and Piedmont Natural Gas said Tuesday they have reached a settlement over a controversial plan for a natural gas pipeline across property the college says is an ecological preserve. The deal will shift the pipeline route into an existing utility corridor on college property.
The newly agreed route, on the southern part of the college property, will affect the college cross country trail. But PNG has agreed to replant trees after the pipeline is installed.
As we reported in February, PNG’s plans for the pipeline have prompted concerns both from the college and from residents.
Davidson Lands Conservancy is among the local groups with concerns about the pipeline. In an email Tuesday night, executive director Roy Alexander said the agreement will help protect the town’s tree canopy.
“I applaud the college for standing up to protect the Ecological Preserve and Piedmont Natural Gas for being willing to consider alternative routing of the corridor on the campus and elsewhere along the route to preserve as much of our highly-valued tree canopy as possible.”
Here’s the college announcement:
Davidson & PNG Reach Agreement on New Pipeline Route
Davidson College and Piedmont Natural Gas have reached agreement on the route a new PNG pipeline will take across college property. The 5,100-foot section that crosses the college’s land will be part of a 127-mile line supplying natural gas to Duke/Progress Energy’s Sutton power plant in Wilmington.
Davidson officials learned in late January of PNG’s original planned pipeline route, and at that time raised concerns about the significant damage it would cause to the college’s ecological preserve. The preserve covers about 1/3 of the college’s 600-acre property and is the site of frequent scientific investigations by professors and students.
The two parties entered into negotiations at that time, and have now reached agreement on an alternate route for the pipeline that runs mostly adjacent to an existing utility corridor on college property. Toward the southern end of the college’s property, the route will turn eastward and cross pastureland before exiting college property.
The agreement with the college gives PNG a new easement that ranges in width between 65 and 70 feet, which is in addition to the existing 40-foot easement that PNG already has on college property. By running the new easement along the existing energy corridor rather than through the ecological preserve, damage to the most sensitive areas of the preserve is avoided. After construction is complete, trees will be replanted along portions of the easement within the ecological preserve to further minimize the long-term effect of the project.
Construction is expected to begin in late fall, and continue through early spring. It will affect some parts of the college’s cross country trails, and the college will work to maintain as much access to the trails as is safely possible during the construction period.
Here’s an announcement by Piedmont Natural Gas:
“Piedmont Natural Gas and Davidson College have reached an agreement with respect to the routing of a new natural gas pipeline crossing a portion of Davidson College’s property.
The agreement with Davidson College over the pipeline’s route was the result of numerous productive discussions between Piedmont and Davidson and addresses the College’s previously stated concerns while also meeting Piedmont’s needs for proceeding with the project.
When completed, the new natural gas pipeline will provide natural gas delivery service to the Duke / Progress Energy Sutton plant in eastern North Carolina near Wilmington. The Sutton Plant is retiring three coal-burning units and replacing them with natural gas fired units; this will allow for significant emission reductions at the facility: 40 to 50 percent in carbon dioxide emissions, more than a 95 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides, and the virtual elimination of sulfur dioxide and mercury emissions. Thus far, more than 100 miles along the route of the new Sutton pipeline have been prepared for construction, approximately 22 miles of pipeline is already “in-ground”, more than 60 miles of pipeline is in place to be installed, and more than 560 workers are currently employed in the effort to construct the new pipeline. The pipeline is scheduled for completion in June, 2013.”