Somerset County natural gas pipeline nearing completion
PRINCESS ANNE, Md. – Work on a natural gas pipeline in Somerset County is nearing completion. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) says it could help them and Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI) to be more energy efficient. “This natural gas project will allow UMES and the local residents of Somerset County to get rid of the dirtiest oil fuels that we are now using as energy here on the Eastern Shore,” said UMES President Dr. Heidi Anderson during a December 2020 Board of Public Works hearing.
Chesapeake Utilities and Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company organized the project, while Chesapeake Turf is helping with installation. Project planners claim delivering natural gas to Somerset County supports more than 1,300 construction jobs over the next decade. They also predict that commercial and industrial customers could save as much as $12,000 per year by switching over to natural gas.
Starting this summer, contractors could be seen on UMES campus installing 40-foot long sections of pipe. The pipeline is an 11-mile extension along U.S. Route 13 from Eden to the area of Westover. “The university, for the most part, right now is on number two fuel oil, which is not as environmentally friendly as natural gas,” said owner of Chesapeake Turf Greg Tucker. “At ECI they are currently burning wood chips. Wood chips are much more of a pollutant than natural gas.”
UMES says with natural gas carried in the pipeline, they’ll be able to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 38%. The university also says ECI will be able to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 65%. “We are direly committed to Governor Hogan’s executive order that he issues on June 25th, 2019. That was directing our institution and other institutions in the state to make sure that we focus on reducing energy consumption by 10% by 2029,” said Dr. Anderson during the hearing.
Maryland’s Board of Public Works approved the $11 million pipeline extension back in December of 2020. Opponents voiced concerns about environmental impact. But the board ultimately decided Somerset County needed the new energy source. “Many of the people most concerned about it do not live on the Lower Shore,” said Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford in the hearing.
Tucker says Chesapeake Turf’s work on the pipeline should be complete by the end of this year.