Meeting informs residents about gas pipeline expansion project

Williams held an informational “open house” meeting at Billingsley School on Monday to educate the public about a proposed expansion of the Transco natural gas pipeline that runs through Billingsley and part of Chilton County.

Chris Stockton, spokesman for Williams, said such meetings are held in the earliest stages of an expansion project.

Lisa and Tommy Mattox talk to a Williams representative about what a proposed natural gas pipeline expansion will mean for their property in South Chilton County.

Lisa and Tommy Mattox talk to a Williams representative about what a proposed natural gas pipeline expansion will mean for their property in South Chilton County.

“This is the first step in that process,” Stockton said and added that the next step is filing an application with the Federal Energy Regulation Commission. “A meeting like this is to address any issues that could come up.”

For example, a property owner might ask Williams to cross his or her land at a different point because of plans for the land, and the proposal might turn out to be a better scenario for all parties involved.

Or, a landowner might see that the proposed pipe path crosses a septic system and need to be re-directed.

Transco is the longest natural gas pipeline in the United States, built to carry gas from sources in the Gulf of Mexico to customers in the Southeast and Northeast, including New York City.

The proposed Hillabee Expansion would allow the pipeline to feed the planned Sabal Trail Pipeline, which would serve customers in Florida.

About 20 miles of the in-ground pipeline lies in Southern and Southeastern Chilton County. One of many compressor stations, where the gas is pressurized to travel along the pipeline, is located in Billingsley.

Stockton said surveying could begin in February, while actual construction could begin in April 2016.

Residents whose property would be affected by the expansion were invited to Monday’s meeting, to talk with Williams employees representing all involved disciplines, look over project maps, and learn what the expansion would mean for them.

Attendees signed in and were given a number that corresponded with a particular section of a map stretched across several tables in the school cafeteria.

Lisa and Tommy Mattox own property in Chilton County about one mile from the Autauga County line.

They didn’t own the property when the pipeline was installed, so they said the expansion will be a new experience for them.

“It’s still really early in the process,” Lisa Mattox said. “It’s still not set in stone.

“We’ll lose some trees and not be able to use some of our land, but they say they’re going to compensate us. This is like anything else: You need to do your homework and make sure you get everything in writing.”

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