Commonly Asked Questions
Who is Alliance?
The Alliance Pipeline system consists of both a Canadian and a U.S. segment. Alliance Pipeline Limited Partnership (“Alliance Canada”) owns the Canadian portion of the Alliance Pipeline system. Alliance Pipeline L.P. (Alliance) owns the U.S. portion of the Alliance Pipeline system. Alliance owns and operates a 2,391-mile natural gas transmission pipeline system across Canada and the U.S. Operational since 2000, the Alliance Mainline System traverses through British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois. Alliance Pipeline L.P. (Alliance USA), which owns the U.S. portion of the system, is owned by affiliates of Enbridge, Inc. and Pembina Pipeline Corporation, each owning a fifty percent interest.
What is Alliance proposing to do in Grundy County?
Alliance is proposing to construct, install, own, operate, and maintain approximately 2.85 miles of 20-inch diameter natural gas pipeline, a new metering and regulating station, and other related auxiliary facilities and appurtenances to provide natural gas transportation service to Competitive Power Ventures’ (CPV) planned Three Rivers Energy Center in Grundy County, Illinois. The auxiliary facilities consist of launcher and receiver facilities at the beginning and terminus of Alliance’s proposed 20-inch pipeline. The new metering station, which is required to measure gas quality and volumetric flow to the customer, will be built at the terminus of the 20-inch pipeline. The 20- inch pipeline will be capable of delivering approximately 210 million standard cubic feet per day of natural gas.
Where will the new pipeline be located?
The proposed interconnection originates at Alliance’s 36-inch pipeline in the Village of Channahon (east of the Aux Sable Liquids Product facility), travels beneath the Illinois River and terminates in an industrial area along E. Collins Road in Goose Lake Township (approximately one and a half miles south of the Illinois River).
What is the project schedule?
Alliance received a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Certificate in March 2023 and is anticipating that construction will begin in the fourth quarter of 2023, with the new 20-inch pipeline, maintenance facilities and meter station operational in the second quarter of 2024.
Who oversees the permitting process?
FERC is the lead federal agency responsible for permitting of the Three Rivers Interconnection Project (the Project) and is responsible for conducting the environmental review process and accepting public comment. Other federal, state and local permitting agencies are also involved.
How was the proposed route chosen?
In developing the proposed route, Alliance assessed multiple route options and considered a variety of factors, including human factors to minimize impacts and ensure public safety; environmental factors to minimize disturbances to biological and cultural resources; and economic factors to ensure the route is cost-effective.
How will the pipeline cross the Illinois River?
Alliance will use a construction technique called Horizontal Directional Drilling, whereby a tunnel is drilled under the river and the pipeline is pulled through the drilled underground tunnel. The underground tunnel follows an arc line from the entry point, down under the special crossing area, and then resurfaces on the opposite side. Using advanced technology and highly trained technicians, a drill head guides the drilling pipe electronically to ensure the angle, depth, and exit point adhere to carefully designed engineering plans.
How will Grundy County and local communities benefit from the Alliance Project?
The Project will have multiple benefits for the local economy. The construction phase will require skilled workers and laborers, which will in turn boost revenue for local services such as hotels, restaurants and service stations. A peak temporary workforce of about 150 people including inspection personnel is estimated for construction of the interconnection; with another 50 people including inspection personnel for construction of the meter station.
What is a meter station?
A meter station measures gas quality and volumetric flow to the customer.
How deep underground will the pipeline be buried?
The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) regulates natural gas pipeline safety, including the depth at which the pipeline must be placed. In normal soil conditions, the minimum required is three feet between the top of the pipeline and the land surface. Additional cover is provided at road and waterbody crossings. Where other issues warrant additional cover, the pipeline may be placed deeper than three feet. Depth specifications will be incorporated into right-of-way agreements.
How will the pipeline be tested and monitored following completion?
Alliance will select a qualified pipeline contractor with the relevant experience and necessary capabilities to complete the Project in a safe and environmentally acceptable manner. Then, throughout construction, we will have construction management and inspection on site to ensure that the work is completed as planned. Following welding operations, all welds along the pipeline will be x-rayed to identify any defects and the pipe will be hydrostatically tested. After backfilling, each pipeline test section will be filled with water and pressured up to a minimum of 1.25 times the design operating pressure of the system for a period of eight hours in order to verify the integrity of the installed pipeline. Once in operation, the pipeline right-of-way will be surveyed routinely and above ground and inline inspection surveys of the pipeline will be completed regularly. Our entire system is also monitored every minute of every day from our gas control center, where we have the ability to remotely isolate and shut down any section of our pipeline, if required.
How is Alliance communicating with and engaging the public?
Alliance is committed to keeping stakeholders informed and involved throughout all phases of the Project – from permitting through construction – through its stakeholder outreach plan. Prior to the submission of our application to FERC, we notified landowners, government entities and other stakeholders about our intentions. Similar required notifications were made when we filed our application with FERC. Throughout the course of the Project, we will maintain and update a project website and provide stakeholders with periodic updates about project developments and milestones.
How can the public be involved in the permitting process?
FERC provides opportunities for landowners and the public to participate in decision making on proposed natural gas pipeline projects, including telling FERC staff about environmental and socioeconomic resources that are important and should be examined, other alternatives to the proposed project that should be evaluated, and commenting on the draft Environmental Assessment.
Will Alliance need to acquire easements from landowners?
Alliance will need to acquire both permanent and temporary easements over portions of certain properties for the construction of the pipeline facilities that are a part of the Project. When it is appropriate to begin negotiations, Alliance will negotiate with landowners in good faith for those necessary property rights. Alliance’s offer to acquire those rights will be based on the fair market value of the property and an equitable assessment of damage.
What is a natural gas transmission pipeline?
Natural gas transmission pipelines deliver natural gas to local distribution companies, which distribute the product through their regional or municipal networks to homes and businesses for heat and energy. They also deliver natural gas directly to large industrial end-users, including electric generating facilities. By definition, an interstate transmission pipeline crosses one or more state boundaries. The U.S. Department of Transportation/PHMSA exclusively governs the safety standards for the operation of an interstate transmission pipeline.
How does transportation of natural gas by pipeline compare to other modes of transportation?
Pipelines are the safest, most environmentally friendly and efficient mode of transportation, according to PHMSA. In fact, data shows that while natural gas demand has increased, the frequency of serious pipeline incidents has decreased by 90 percent over the last three decades alone, primarily due to significant efforts by pipeline companies to upgrade and modernize their infrastructure.
How does Alliance ensure its pipelines operate safely?
Safety is, and always will be, Alliance’s highest priority. We are committed keeping our pipeline system running smoothly and without incident. We invest heavily in safety measures including:
- Inspection and preventative maintenance programs,
- Around-the-clock monitoring of pipelines and facilities,
- Emergency response training and drills for employees and local emergency responders,
- Pressure tests on new and existing pipelines
- Aerial and ground patrols along the pipeline right-of-way,
- Automatic shut-off and remote-control valves, and
- High-quality pipeline material and protective coating
What is Alliance’s safety record?
In the 20 years since operations began, the Alliance Mainline System has experienced:
- Zero safety-related conditions,
- Zero pipeline-related leaks or ruptures,
- Zero pipeline integrity “actionable features” per high-resolution In Line Inspection technology, and
- Zero third-party damage events.
How does Alliance work with emergency responders?
Alliance has developed a Pipeline Safety and Emergency Information guide for first responders to help them respond in the unlikely event of a pipeline emergency. We also facilitate and participate in tabletop or full-scale exercises to help first responders practice pipeline emergency scenarios.
What is a right-of-way?
A pipeline right-of-way is a land strip of varying widths, which may contain one or more pipelines.
How do I know if there is a pipeline near my home, workplace or community?
Markers identify the approximate location of a pipeline. Markers should never be used as a reference for the exact location of a pipeline, though. All pipeline markers provide the name of the pipeline operator, product being transported and a telephone number for reporting pipeline emergencies. The general location of transmission pipelines and contact information for the pipeline operators is available through the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS). Do not rely on the National Pipeline Mapping System or pipeline markers when planning to dig. A call to 811, the national “Call Before You Dig” telephone number, is necessary to properly locate pipelines and other buried utilities before excavation.
Why does Alliance maintain clear rights-of-way?
Alliance maintains clear rights-of-way to ensure that its operations remain as safe as possible to protect landowners, the public and the pipeline facilities. We must have unrestricted entry and access to all of its facilities at all times for regular maintenance or during emergency situations. A clear right-of-way provides easy identification and monitoring of pipeline facilities, which is imperative in preventing third-party damage. Trees and large shrubs obstruct the view for foot patrols and aerial inspections, which are routine procedures for maintenance. Tree roots also create a danger to the coating that protects the pipeline from corrosion
What is an encroachment?
An encroachment is anything that is placed within the easement that may interfere with Alliance’s ability to use the easement. In most cases, the property owner may continue activities that do not pose a problem to the long-term integrity of the pipeline. Examples of encroachments that interfere with our use of the easement and are not allowed include buildings, houses, garages, excess vegetation, mobile homes, trailers, sheds, trees, poles, decks, patios, swimming pools or other structures that obstruct or impede access to or along the ROW. Utilities, driveways, streets, roads, fences and approved parking lots generally may be placed across the pipeline easement provided they meet certain criteria required to protect the pipeline. Our ROW agents can provide landowners with that criteria—and please involve our agents early on if you are planning improvements near or across our pipelines to find out what’s required.
What activities are considered ‘excavation?’
- Planting trees or shrubs, installing fence posts and building decks
- Constructing sidewalks, steps, roads or railways, parking lots, driveways, ditches, berms, overhead or underground utilities, and other facilities
- Deep tilling, excavating, ditching, drilling, auguring, installing drain tile, and stockpiling materials
- Stripping topsoil, soil ripping, land leveling, peat removal, clearing, and grading
How does the 811 “Call Before You Dig” process work?
First, make the call. Always call 811, the national “Call Before You Dig” phone number, 2-3 business days before the start of excavation. When you call 811, the one call center will ask for information to help line locators find the proposed excavation site and properly mark it. You should have this information ready when you call. Depending on your location, this may include:
- The county and city, township or village where the work is planned,
- Your work site’s street address, the road on which it is located and the nearest intersection,
- Driving directions or GPS coordinates,
- The type of work you will be doing,
- Whether you have white-lined or pre-marked the excavation area,
- A description of the area where underground utilities need to be marked, and
- The date and time when excavation will begin.
Professional locators will be sent to the proposed excavation site within 2-3 business days to mark the approximate locations of pipelines and other underground utilities with spray paint, flags or both so you can safely work around them. This is a free service paid for by utility companies to protect you and those around you. Once the lines are marked, respect the marks and excavate carefully around them. Be sure to adhere to any instructions or policies Alliance or other utility company representatives may share with you.
Why should I call 811?
Striking a pipeline could cause injuries, damage property, disrupt vital services to an entire area and lead to expensive fines and repair costs. There is always a risk of striking a pipeline or other utility, even if you think you know what might be present in the area. The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces.