New natural gas pipeline would extend through Martin County

Sabal Trail Transmission LLC submitted the project in response to a request for proposal (RFP) from Florida Power & Light Co., which wants to establish a natural gas pipeline that would run from Alabama to Martin County. The entire pipeline that FPL envisions would cover about 700 miles, according to The Gainesville Sun.

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Sabal Trail Transmission LLC  answers frequently asked questions about the pipeline:

Who is Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC?

Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC (“Sabal Trail”) is a wholly-owned Spectra Energy Corp (“Spectra Energy”) pipeline company. Spectra Energy (NYSE: SE), a Fortune 500 company, is one of North America’s premier pipeline and midstream companies. For more information, visit

What is the Sabal Trail interstate pipeline system?

Sabal Trail’s interstate pipeline system is a proposed project in response to a request for proposal from Florida Power & Light Company (“FPL”) to provide dedicated natural gas transportation services for their power generation needs starting in May 2017.

If chosen by FPL to complete the project, where will the Sabal Trail interstate pipeline be located, and what would be its approximate length?

The natural gas pipeline study corridor under review originates in Alabama, extends to Georgia and ends in Central Florida. The proposed interstate pipeline would run for approximately 465 miles and would parallel existing rights-of-way for about 70 percent of the route.

What is the “study corridor” for the Sabal Trail interstate pipeline project?

Generally, study corridors are established along the proposed primary and alternate routes to determine the best possible locations for the pipeline facilities and potential workspace areas. The study corridors are typically 600 feet wide. However, once field evaluations are complete, the pipeline corridor will be reduced to a much narrower width that would be necessary to construct the pipeline. Typically, this is approximately 100 feet.

What would be the Sabal Trail interstate pipeline’s capacity?

The Sabal Trail pipeline will be capable of transporting up to 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day – enough to meet the needs of more than 4 million American homes for one year.

When would the Sabal Trail interstate pipeline be in service?

FPL has requested that the project begin to deliver natural gas by a May 2017 in-service date.

What stage is the Sabal Trail interstate pipeline project in now, and what are the next steps?

The Sabal Trail project is in the early development stage. FPL anticipates awarding the project by mid-July 2013. In the near term, Sabal Trail is initiating several activities to position the project to meet the schedule requirements, should Sabal Trail be awarded the project. These activities include engaging federal, state and local officials to inform them of Sabal Trail’s initial planned work in the study corridor areas. Landowners who may be involved will receive introductory letters and information about initial survey plans in their area. The survey study corridor will be approximately 600 feet wide, which would allow future pipeline route refinements, as necessary, to incorporate landowner-, environmental- and construction-related concerns. Should the Sabal Trail project move forward, survey work would commence in late-summer 2013. Once field evaluations are complete, the pipeline corridor will be reduced to a much narrower width that would be necessary to construct the pipeline. Typically, this is approximately 100 feet.

If Sabal Trail is awarded the project, who will authorize the construction of the Sabal Trail interstate pipeline and what kind of regulatory oversight will the project development have?

Sabal Trail will obtain necessary regulatory authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the federal agency with jurisdiction over U.S. interstate natural gas pipeline projects. The FERC process and the permitting processes of other federal and state agencies will allow interested stakeholders multiple opportunities to comment on the proposed pipeline project.

The FERC exclusively authorizes the construction of new interstate natural gas facilities. FERC is also the lead federal agency responsible for conducting environmental reviews of interstate natural gas projects, in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. In addition to its FERC certificate application, Sabal Trail will seek review from numerous other federal agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the appropriate agencies in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

How will the Sabal Trail interstate pipeline benefit the Southeastern states, including Alabama, Georgia and Florida?

The Sabal Trail interstate pipeline would increase energy diversity, security and reliability to Southeastern markets.

In addition, the Sabal Trail interstate pipeline project will create significant jobs during planning, construction and development, as well as add capital investment and tax base to all three states.

What are safety measures for this project?

Sabal Trail is dedicated to the safe, reliable operation of facilities, and the protection of employees, the public and the environment.

Natural gas pipelines monitor and control safety in many ways and use many different tools. Collectively, these tools make natural gas transmission pipelines one of the safest forms of energy transportation. Our safety programs are designed to prevent pipeline failures, detect anomalies, perform repairs and often exceed regulatory requirements.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) oversees the safety of interstate natural gas pipelines and mandates minimum requirements from the design and construction to testing, operations, maintenance and emergency response. The new pipeline will operate in strict accordance with all federal and state safety requirements.

Sabal Trail will work closely with local public safety officials to provide them with a thorough awareness of our pipelines and pipeline safety.

Once the facilities are placed in service, Sabal Trail will implement operations procedures designed to monitor the pipeline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and will maintain the facilities per applicable federal and state regulations.

Where will the above-ground facilities be located?

Though minimal in number, above-ground facilities are an important part of a mostly underground pipeline transmission system. Compressor stations will be strategically located along the route to push gas through the pipeline.

Initially, one compressor station will be constructed in Tallapoosa County, Ala., at the start of the pipeline and another in Osceola County, Fla., at the terminus of the line. An additional five stations will be added after the original in-service date. Additionally, valves, regulators, measurement equipment, communication towers, and other components that enhance pipeline safety and performance may be seen along the route. These above-ground facilities are strategically placed will be discussed with you should your property be affected.

What kind of input will affected stakeholders have in anticipation of the Sabal Trail interstate pipeline project?

Recently, the project began communicating with public officials, permitting agencies and area stakeholders during the initial development process and will maintain open lines of communication throughout the project’s development. Landowners and other stakeholders will have multiple opportunities to provide input on the project during the permitting process.

Sabal Trail is also sending letters to property owners whose properties may be initially involved to inform them of the project and the need to perform surveys to collect information about their properties.

Later this year, Sabal Trail will host local public meetings for area residents to learn more about the project and ask questions. Sabal Trail will provide advance notification to make stakeholders aware of these important events.

What kind of interactions will Sabal Trail have with affected stakeholders when addressing the pipeline alignments and the project’s overall economic and environmental impact?

The project’s experienced development team is committed to a comprehensive consultation and ongoing communications process with stakeholders to develop a viable pipeline route that mitigates impacts to landowners and the environment and meets or exceeds customer needs, constructability requirements and safety regulations.

Sabal Trail will seek opportunities to discuss the project directly with each landowner in small, face-to-face discussions. The survey activities (engineering, environmental and cultural resources) will help Sabal Trail obtain the necessary field data to further assess the pipeline alignments and address individual landowner concerns. These activities will be performed in a minimal amount of time and should not inconvenience any landowner.

What is the estimated environmental and overall economic impact of the Sabal Trail interstate pipeline project?

Sabal Trail is committed to protecting the environment. Wherever possible, the new pipeline will follow existing rights-of-way to substantially limit environmental impacts and effects to landowners. These development efforts are closely monitored by federal and state environmental agencies, requiring a number of permits, and Sabal Trail will closely adhere to all applicable environmental standards to ensure a minimal footprint. Environmental aspects of the construction project are regulated by FERC, which will review all plans and conduct its own environmental study of the project.

What sort of local or regional benefits can we expect to see from a project of this size?

The Sabal Trail interstate pipeline project will create a significant amount of jobs during construction and add capital investment and tax base to Alabama, Georgia and Florida. The proposed project will provide consumers and businesses with critical access to an affordable, new natural gas supply source that will:

•Invigorate economies, spur growth and ensure regional economic competitiveness;

•Enhance supply diversity, reliability and security; and

•Ensure clean-burning, affordable natural gas will continue to be available.


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