Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 3:31 PM on Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Surveying, permitting for gas line under way

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer

Survey crews contracted by Enstar Natural Gas Co. have started work on the Anchor Point-Homer natural gas line, what Enstar calls the Homer Trunk Line. Surveyors have begun field work on the route that will follow the Old Sterling Highway to the Sterling Highway and into Homer, said Charlie Pierce, southern region manager for Enstar.

Last week, the Homer City Council accepted an $8.1 million state grant to be used by Enstar to build the gas line to Homer and Kachemak City. That action initiated the construction project, now in the survey and permitting phase.

Once surveying and permitting is done, winter work such as boring in wetlands could begin. Construction of the line is planned for the 2013 building season.

"These things we're trying to take care of as much as we can in the summer months so that we'll have al those things in and we'll be ready to proceed," Pierce said of the work going on now.

Enstar also has started a cultural resources survey to make sure the route does not have any potential archeological or historical sites that would need to be avoided. Enstar also is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on any l permitting needed for wetlands areas.

When construction starts in 2013, the line will start being put in at the Anchor Point end. As the line is built and pressurized, property owners along the route could start getting service even before the line is finished.

"Conceivably, those folks that are along the Old Sterling Highway and the pipeline route can come in and apply for gas when that work commences," Pierce said.

Enstar will hold community meetings next winter and spring to talk to land owners about how to apply for service. Property owners near the route who might want to cooperate on paying for service also could talk to Enstar about designing and building short service lines.

Some clearing may need to be done on the gas line right of way. Enstar plans to clear about 5 to 10 feet back from private property on its right of way, but needs about 15 to 20 feet to operate equipment. The survey being done now will identify where the route needs to be cleared. If trees are cleared, Enstar will remove limbs and cut up trees into logs for use by nearby property owners for wood fuel if desired, Pierce said.

Enstar also will be advertising for contractors to do some of the work as well as property owners who can provide office and equipment storage space, Pierce said. Updates will be posted on Enstar's website at www.enstarnaturalgas.com.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.