Rockies natural gas pipeline making way across Indiana |

Rockies natural gas pipeline making way across Indiana

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Steel pipes fill a large staging area, before being taken to the work site where the 638-mile Rockies Express-East Pipeline is being built through Putnam County, Indiana, Wednesday October 8, 2008. (AP Photo/ Indianapolis Star, Joe Vitti))
AP | The Indianapolis Sta

BAINBRIDGE, Ind. ” Construction work has started on the 166-mile segment across Indiana’s midsection of a pipeline that will carry natural gas from Colorado into the Midwest.

The Rockies Express-East pipeline route crosses nine counties in central Indiana, dropping just south of Indianapolis. The pipeline is expected to be partially in service into western Indiana’s Putnam County by April, with the entire section through Indiana completed by next July.

More than two years after the first public meetings were held on the project, 80-foot segments of pipe are being laid end to end near the Putnam County town of Bainbridge, about 40 miles east of Terre Haute.

Rockies Express-East is the final portion of a more than 1,600-mile, $5.6 billion pipeline stretching from Colorado to Ohio.

“I don’t like it,” farmer Charlie Stewart, who has two soybean fields in rural Johnson County near Bargersville that the pipeline will cross, told The Indianapolis Star. “But what am I going to do about it?”

Pipeline officials estimate the entire project could pump more than $500 million into the state’s economy in an eight-month span as more than 1,000 workers build the pipeline.

More than 500 workers gather each day at a construction yard at Cloverdale in Putnam County to be bused to construction sites.

When construction is complete, four full-time employees will man a $30 million compressor station, the only one in the state, near Bainbridge.

In April, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission conducted an environmental impact study that found no major environmental threats from the pipeline in Indiana or other Midwestern states.

The pipeline’s route enters Indiana from Illinois near the Vermillion County town of Dana, then heads south of Indianapolis and into Ohio near Brookville in Franklin County.

Developers tout the system’s ability to supply natural gas from the plentiful Rocky Mountain basin to the eastern United States.

“It’s domestic, it’s plentiful, and it’s available,” Rockies Express spokesman Allen Fore said.

Whether the pipeline will translate into lower gas bills in the future is unknown. But with four Indiana companies tapping into Rockies Express, a diverse gas supply is a positive, said Dan Considine, a spokesman for Citizens Gas, which has 266,000 customers in Marion and Hamilton counties.

“It gives companies like ours the ability to essentially shop around for supply services,” he said. “It gives us a lot more flexibility in shopping for natural gas to get the best price.”

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