Work on a 10.2-mile natural gas pipeline to service Tate & Lyle is underway after the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently gave approval for the project.
Chris Olsen, Tate & Lyle vice president of community and government affairs, said FERC go-ahead means the local manufacturing plant can make the conversion from coal-fired boilers to natural gas.
The pipeline will fuel Tate & Lyle’s $66 million cogenerational plant that is expected to substantially reduce air emissions. The company held a community update last week at the Carmichael Inn in Loudon.
“The catalyst for this community update was some good news we received from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a couple of weeks ago,” Olsen said. “We received the regulatory approval for the pipeline, and so without the approval this project could not go forward. So, we thought now that approval for the pipeline has been received, we thought it’d be a good time to update the community to let them know that the pipeline construction will start. ... Really reinforce what this project means for both the Loudon facility and the area.”
Tate & Lyle Plant Manager Gerry Schlueter said switching to natural gas will reduce sulfur dioxide levels by 85 percent. The plant’s overall carbon footprint will also be decreased by 43 percent.
“There will be a significant reduction in our overall emissions, and ... but I think the bottom line is there’s a significant impact on the plant’s overall emissions as a result of conversion to natural gas,” Olsen said. “That will not only improve our plant’s performance, but it also has a positive impact on the area’s overall emissions level and overall environment to open up more opportunities for economic development.
“... If we reduce our emissions, that opens up other opportunities for new businesses to grow,” he added. “Similarly on the pipeline itself, bringing in additional natural gas capacity will be another strong positive for local economic development. With the abundance of natural gas at a low price, this will allow the area to compete for more industrial development.”
Olsen said the project will also improve the Loudon plant’s competitiveness with other Tate & Lyle facilities.
According to notice of intent sent out in July, the approved route — titled G-1 — will start in Monroe County and go up the original pathway to milepost 1.5, go underneath Highway 72 heading east and then run parallel to milepost 3.1, where it will eventually be linked to the existing Loudon-Lenoir City lateral pipeline. The route will impact 36.9 acres.
“Literally construction’s beginning right now,” Bill Wickman, East Tennessee Natural Gas director of business development, said. “Basically, once the FERC gives approval, then we accept the approval and then provide them with what’s known as implementation planning and then they give us clearance to construct. So clearance to construct is the key we’ve got and quite literally we’ve been meeting contractors and they’re starting the construction process right now. ... We are expecting it to be placed into service for Tate & Lyle Sept. 1.”
East Tennessee Natural Gas LLC is owned by Spectra Energy, a company based in Houston, Texas. In a previous interview, Spectra Energy representative Devin Hotzel said construction would take six months to complete.
Loudon Mayor Jim Greenway said Tate & Lyle’s plans to invest into the local plant will benefit the community.
“Any time they make this kind of investment in the future of their plant here, that promises to be some really good (news) ... for Loudon city and the county,” Greenway said. “I mean it’s — they’re looking to be here in the future.”
Loudon County Commissioner David Meers said he hopes the plant will offer more employment opportunities.
“Hopefully the economic impact on it will be great, providing more jobs,” he said.