New Northwest Natural Transmission Pipeline Eyes Route Okay

The Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council is scheduled to decide Monday, March 10 on a final route for a proposed $94 million Northwest Natural Gas Co. pipeline in Oregon that has fallen under fierce opposition from not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) supporters.

The 24-inch diameter transmission pipeline would cover 62 miles through three fast-growing counties in which residents have a NIMBY mentality. Concerns about safety are at a high following several major natural gas pipeline blowouts in the Pacific Northwest and broader western region over the past few years.

As part of the seven-member volunteer siting council's three-day review of the project in Portland, a 200-foot route has been mapped with the goal of creating an eventual 40-foot-wide corridor to permit adequate maintenance room for Northwest Natural crews on the mostly buried pipeline.

A recent report in the Portland Oregonian said "scores of residents" have voiced concerns about safety for nearby homes and farmland along the proposed route. The utility estimated the new transmission line tied to its interstate supplier, Williams' Northwest Pipeline Co., and to the utility's underground storage field at Mist, OR, will ultimately save its customers $180 million over 30 years.

The council's route decision is subject to appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court. The overall utility transmission pipeline project is subject to a final decision by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission.

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