Leaders of the Coalition to Reroute NEXUS are using words such as “baloney” and “hype” in expressing doubts the energy company proposing to build a gas transmission pipeline through Ohio already has energy customers in the state.
On Friday, NEXUS filed a formal application with federal regulators seeking to start building the 255-mile, $2 billion pipeline across Ohio in early 2017. The NEXUS Gas Transmission filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requested government approval of the project by the fourth quarter of 2016.
The 36-inch pipeline would carry natural gas from Columbiana County through Medina County on the way from eastern Ohio to Michigan and into an energy hub in Ontario, Canada.
In its news release, the company listed the Brickyard Industrial Park in Wadsworth and Columbia Gas of Ohio operations as two potential customers in Medina County as well as other customers in Columbiana, Erie, Fulton, Lorain, Lucas, Sandusky and Wayne counties.
But leaders of CORN interviewed by The Gazette said they do not believe those companies are official customers of NEXUS yet.
“Once again, NEXUS proves itself a master of the art of baloney,” said Paul Gierosky, a leader of CORN. “NEXUS has no customers in Northeast Ohio.”
Jon Strong, another leader of CORN, told The Gazette that NEXUS has “yet to divulge any customer contracts.”
“It’s all hype,” he said. “Nobody’s seen any concrete contracts for customers for gas usage.”
Gierosky said NEXUS still is involved in a court case in Summit County with the hopes of obtaining a temporary restraining order to access private property for surveys.
In its lawsuit, NEXUS said that “timing is of the essence” because the company — which is a business partnership formed by Spectra Energy Corp. of Houston, DTE Energy of Detroit and Canada-based Enbridge Inc. — has partnering companies that are expecting an in-service date of Nov. 1, 2017.
CORN attorney David Mucklow filed on Nov. 9 in Summit County Common Pleas Court a request to obtain information including names and addresses of local companies that NEXUS made deals with.
Magistrate Martha Hom approved that motion Nov. 13, ordering NEXUS to comply by Nov. 20. On Nov. 18, NEXUS filed to have the deadline delayed and Judge Mary Rowlands extended the period to Dec. 18.
“This order from the Summit County judge will provide the evidence and the facts that we need to demonstrate that there is no purpose and no need for their current route and that the reroute that our group came up with months ago is the best alternative,” Gierosky said.
Asked if NEXUS complied with the judge’s order, NEXUS spokesman Arthur Diestel said in an email, “As a company policy, we do not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.”
Diestel said NEXUS filed a list of Ohio customers in a FERC filing document called “Resource Report 1” June 12.
“NEXUS will continue to negotiate with customers and will provide access to new customers even after the proposed in-service date of November 2017,” he said.
Beacon Marshall and PJS Properties, a Wadsworth developer, announced in May an agreement with NEXUS to provide natural gas to an industrial park in southern Wadsworth.
PJS Properties President Phil Stone told The Gazette in a statement that the deal would provide natural gas to the Brickyard Industrial Park at Mount Eaton Road and the Akron-Barberton Railway tracks.
In September, Columbia Gas of Ohio Vice President Michael Watson filed a letter to FERC in support of the pipeline.
“The strategic routing and design of the NEXUS Project will provide Columbia Gas access to affordable supplies of Appalachian natural gas that will operationally support the expansion of its existing distribution infrastructure to meet the growing demand of Columbia Gas’s customers in Medina, Sandusky and other Ohio counties,” he wrote.
Strong said CORN will continue to advocate for the pipeline to be rerouted to a less populated area and will make comments on a new docket number — CP16-22 — which can be found at www.ferc.gov and was filed Friday.
“We call out any issues or concerns or missed things or misstated things in their report,” he said. “It’s maddening that once again the effort falls on the shoulders of the property owners to point out concerns.
“We’re just saying that you don’t need to go through Summit and Medina counties and that you can go farther south and affect fewer landowners.”
The NEXUS filing on Friday — which the company called “a significant milestone” — includes maps showing the pipeline would be in close to 15 residential buildings in Guilford, Lafayette and York townships.
The distance the pipeline is proposed to be from these residential buildings comes as close as 62 feet to 208 feet, according to the maps submitted with the filing.
Kathie Jones, leader of another group of concerned citizens called Sustainable Medina County, opposes the pipeline and is an advocate for landowners’ rights.
“All of the dangers, loss of property values, loss of farmland and public health dangers from industrial poisoning will be borne by the residents of Medina County, who will not profit from the export of this fracked gas to other continents,” she said, after hearing about NEXUS recently filing with FERC. “Sustainable Medina County will oppose NEXUS at FERC, on the streets and in the courts.”