Spectra gas project placed on backburner

Three months after information on a proposed Bedford County-to-North Carolina natural gas pipeline became public, the plan has been put on hold, a company spokesman revealed this week.

The plan by Houston-based Spectra Energy to run 1 billion cubic feet of gas daily from Bedford to the South – originally detailed in letters to Bedford County landowners – has been suspended, Spectra official Arthur Diestel said in an email to the Daily Progress newspaper in Charlottesville, Va.

“Spectra Energy is suspending its development work on the proposed Carolina project; however, we will be analyzing other opportunities in the region,” Diestel said.

The proposed 427-mile line was one of several considered by gas companies to meet demand in Southern coastal states. Carrying fuel from the gas-rich northern states, it would originate at a compressor station just south of Bedford.

Bedford County officials reacted skeptically to the project, about which Spectra representatives sometimes appeared to be close-lipped.

County Planning Director Don Schwartz complained that Spectra officials seemed uninterested in large, open public meetings and said he still hasn’t received official word of the project’s suspension.

“I guess that’s the end of it,” Schwartz said, noting that he and the county commissioners weren’t aware of the change until a resident sent a clipping from a Virginia newspaper.

Spectra representatives stressed that the plan was in its early phases and hadn’t been approved. A publicly available map showed only a broad arrow from Pennsylvania to the Carolinas, while maps given to landowners showed the Bedford County route in far greater detail.

“You had all these mountains … and you were going to cross every one,” Schwartz said of the plan. “You couldn’t have picked a worse route.”

Schwartz said Spectra representatives had expressed concerns about protests or public opposition if they held public events in Bedford County.

Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.