Pentex Actions To Delay Pipeline Decision
By Rick Hiduk
Pentex Pipeline Company filed a Motion for Suspension of the Procedural Schedule with the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on Nov. 4. The action is a follow-up to the public hearing held at the Wyalusing fire hall on Oct. 7 and will allow Pentex extra time to satisfy the orders given by PUC administrative law judge Dennis Buckley at that time to provide a formal rebuttal to input by a number of local residents concerning the company’s request to enhance and expand its utility status.
In a memo from Buckley to all parties involved, including “protestants” such as Carolyn Knapp, Steve Chant, Diane Ward, Joe Shervinsky, and Trudy Gerlach, the judge declared Pentex’s request to be “both valid and reasonable.”
According to Buckley, Pentex is in the process of coordinating rebuttal testimony to numerous issues raised at the October hearing, including the company’s apparent history of infractions, refusals, and cease and desist orders issued by government agencies in Pennsylvania and other states, as well as a general allegation among those who spoke out against the company’s request that the services that it wants to offer are redundant with services already planned by gas companies operating in the area.
However, “The Pentex corporate officer most familiar with the issues is unavailable until the end of November,” Buckley stated.
Ward maintains that the officer in question is on an extended vacation in Argentina. “I estimate that the suspension will cause a delay of at least two months in their overall schedule,” Ward suggested, adding that the move came as a surprise to her because Pentex had previously been “very schedule-driven” with aspects pertaining to its current plans to develop a pipeline in eight Bradford County municipalities that would deliver natural gas in excess of that needed by its only customer, Cargill Meat Solutions, to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline.
Buckley’s directive indicates only that the recently approved motion by Pentex will “result in the cancellation of the evidentiary hearings now scheduled for Dec. 5 to 7, 2011, in Harrisburg.” A prehearing teleconference between Buckley and all registered parties will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7, during which further revisions of procedural schedule will be considered.
Municipalities that could be affected by Buckley’s final decision, which could still be rendered in the spring of 2012, include the borough of Wyalusing, as well as Wyalusing, Terry, Herrick, Tuscarora, Stevens, and Wilmot Townships.