Duke officials extend decision deadline for future pipeline, will look for 'best possible plan'

Posted at 1:11 PM, Jun 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-29 13:50:03-04

CINCINNATI — Duke Energy officials said Wednesday they would take extra time to consider whether or not to install a proposed but controversial new natural gas pipeline project.

Duke officials announced the extension following a town hall meeting held earlier this month to give residents the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns about the proposed 30-inch, 12-to-14-mile pipeline, known as the Central Corridor Pipeline Extension.

The meeting yielded more than 1,300 comments, according to Duke spokeswoman Sally Thelen. The line would run through northern Hamilton County, replacing a pipe that has been in place since the 1950s.

Jim Henning, who oversees Duke’s Ohio and Kentucky region, said the number of comments prompted leaders to pause and give the decision more consideration.

“Our goal is to have the best possible plan with the least impact on property owners, the environment and the communities we serve,” Henning said in a statement Wednesday.

Before this month’s listening session, the company had proposed three different routes for the pipe.

The plan has drawn criticism from residents who live in the areas around the proposed routes. Organizers of Neighbors Opposed to Pipeline Expansion (or NOPE) said the pipeline would create a mess and could potentially lead to an explosion.

“This is not the right answer for the gas problem,” Pleasant Ridge Community Council President Bill Frost said. “There are multiple better answers than this, and we’d like to work with Duke and everyone to find the best route.”

Representatives from the company met with the concerned residents in an effort to put their fears at ease. They have more than 250 miles of high-pressure pipeline that they have operated in Ohio and Kentucky for decades, according to Thelen.

“We have a very solid safety record with our natural gas system, and we feel confident we’re going to be able to put a new pipeline in Hamilton County and operate it reliably and safely not only for our employees, but our customers of that areas,” Thelen said.

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WCPO's Tom McKee and James Leggate contributed to this report.