Natural gas pipeline proposed

By KATE REARDON

Herald Writer

EVERETT — A nine-mile-long natural gas pipeline will be built from Lake Stevens to Everett to hook up to a proposed wholesale electricity plant if one of the largest transporters in the nation gets its way.

Williams Gas Pipeline by next summer wants to build the 16-inch line from its existing Northwest Pipeline system to a natural-gas-fired power plant proposed by FPL Energy of Florida, said Bev Chipman, communications leader for Williams.

The power plant, to be located on former Weyerhaeuser property in north Everett, would use the natural gas to produce wholesale electricity.

Before that happens, the companies must seek several permits from federal and state agencies, and are planning public meetings in the coming months. An oversight board at FPL Energy will also need to give final approval for the electric plant, FPL Energy’s Carol Clawson said.

Everett City Council member Bob Overstreet said although he has some concerns, he believes the pipeline and power plant projects have some validity.

"We need to do some things for energy," Overstreet said, adding that at the same time attention needs to be paid to residents who have safety and emissions concerns.

Overstreet said he wants to become more familiar with the plans for the pipeline and energy plant. "I’m certainly not going to be a strong advocate or a strong negative at this point," he said.

Although the new power plant would increase competition among power providers, it’s not yet known whether consumers would ultimately see a drop in their power bills, FPL officials said. The power plant is a for-profit business, not part of the Snohomish County PUD, and would sell its output on the open market.

Chipman said transporting natural gas via pipeline is the safest mode, surpassing road, rail, air and water.

This is the second time Williams has notified residents about the proposed pipeline. In August 1999, after a different company decided not to move ahead with the proposed power plant, the Williams company told residents the project had been canceled.

However, FPL Energy’s interest in building the power plant in Everett is what renewed the pipeline proposal, Williams officials said.

Not only will Williams Gas Pipeline need to get several permits before installing the pipelines, but will also eventually have to compensate landowners for property used for the line.

To install the line, crews would use excavation equipment to dig the trenches and lift equipment to install the pipes. The pipes are welded together, coated and inspected. For the Everett project, crews would drill under the Snohomish River and then pull the welded pipe through.

FPL Energy has power plants in 10 states and serves 7 million customers in Florida. In Washington, the power would be sold wholesale to power providers such as local PUDs, who would then resell it.

FPL would hire as many as 200 union workers to build the Everett plant over two years. After opening, only 25 to 30 people would be required to operate the plant, Clawson said.

FPL Energy is also seeking permits for emissions of nitrogen, sulfur dioxide and particulates. Officials from Puget Sound Air Quality and FPL Energy said they plan to release additional information and comparisons so residents can understand how the plant would relate to quality-of-life issues.

FPL officials said natural-gas-fired power plants are low producers of waste and create no byproducts, such as ash.

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