LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - LG&E plans to use eminent domain to acquire the final 15 percent of easements they need for a proposed 12-mile pipeline project in Bullitt County.
The company said it will initiate condemnation proceedings in the coming weeks to start construction on the $39 million project.
LG&E said the existing natural gas distribution line that serves Bullitt County is “nearing full capacity.”
“It’s not that we’re running out of gas. We have gas supply and we can serve gas,” LG&E spokeswoman Natasha Collins said. “It’s that there’s only so much space for a line to be able to transport gas at a certain pressure through the system to customers.”
The utility said it will evaluate requests for additional or new natural gas service in the area on a case-by-case basis.
Collins said because the line is nearing full capacity, LG&E needs an additional gas supply in order to keep up with the county’s growth.
LG&E announced Tuesday it will start suing property owners who haven’t given up portions of their land, including Bernheim Forest.
Bernheim Arboretum and Forest Executive Director Dr. Mark Wourms said they have not received notification from LG&E about the condemnation proceedings.
“We kind of anticipated that was where we were going to end up. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was ever necessary,” Wourms said. “We’ve been saying all along that LG&E has alternative routes they could have chosen.”
According to case documents through the Kentucky Public Service Commission, LG&E surveyed land and did several route studies to determine the best one.
“We took time to take a look at making sure we were constructing or choosing a route that is most efficient and least impactful -- least impactful to the property owners in that area, least impactful to the community,” Collins said.
Wourms said for Bernheim, the issue comes down to the conservation and deed easements they have on the land the pipeline would go through.
“And you know, taking land from people, taking land from organizations is itself troublesome,” Wourms said. “When you're talking about conservation land, it's even more so. Because conservation land is so rare in the state of Kentucky.”
The forest recently found two rare species of snails that live right in the pipeline route. Wourms said they would lose eight acres of land in the pipeline route that is used by two endangered bat species.
“It’s just regrettable. This didn’t have to happen,” Wourms said. “We’re going to look at our options and fight on.”
Bernheim started a petition for members of the public to voice their opinions.
LG&E still needs about 15 percent of easements to start construction for the project. If a court rules in favor of LG&E, construction would take six to nine months.