November 29, 2013

Summit Natural Gas pipeline construction in Norridgewock temporarily stops

Spokesman for Summit Natural Gas says he cannot comment on why area sub-contractor has left the construction site.

By Rachel Ohm
Staff Writer

NORRIDGEWOCK — Construction of a natural gas pipeline on Main Street has temporarily stopped, but the company running the project won’t say why, prompting questions from local officials about that section of the $350 million pipeline project.

A spokesman for Summit Natural Gas of Maine confirmed that construction in downtown Norridgewock has been put on hold for more than a week, with all equipment and personnel gone from the area where drilling was supposed to be taking place.

Summit spokesman Mike Duguay said the subcontractor is no longer working on the pipeline, but he couldn’t comment on what went on between the subcontractor and contractor.

Many people in town have been talking about the stalled construction and are wondering what is going on, said First Selectman Ron Frederic. At least one resident who asked not to be identified emailed the Morning Sentinel, saying he stopped to ask a flagger what was going on and was told a dispute with the drilling crew had stalled the work.

But Frederic said the town hadn’t received any word from Summit as to why the job stopped.

Town manager Michelle Flewelling said she hadn’t heard from Summit either.

“There was no notice to the town, although I would have thought they would let people know what’s going on,” said Frederic.

Duguay said Mayville, Wisc.-based Schmid Pipeline Construction Inc., one of three main contractors hired by the company to build the pipeline, had been overseeing the work of subcontractors in the area, including the drilling team in Norridgewock. The site was the smaller of two drilling sites in Norridgewock, he said.

According to Morning Sentinel archives, K&K Excavation of Turner was the subcontractor working in downtown Norridgewock near the intersection of Main Street and Waterville Road. A representative for the firm could not be reached on Friday.

Dan Langstone, an attorney for Schmid and its media spokesman, said Friday he could not comment.

A new drilling team should be in place next week to resume the work, said Duguay. He said that while it is beneficial to have construction completed as soon as possible, the setback is not huge for the company’s overall plan of building the $350 million pipeline, which will include 68 miles of steel transmission line in the Kennebec Valley and thousands of miles of additional distribution lines from Pittston to Madison.

Competing natural gas firm Maine Natural Gas has also been working on bringing pipeline to central Maine and recently completed a 21.4-mile main transmission line from Windsor to MaineGeneral Medical Center’s new Alfond Center for Health in Augusta. Summit has also been signing deals with large customers for natural gas service, including UPM Madison paper mill.

Officials from both firms say the projects will bring savings on heat to residents, businesses and government buildings in central Maine.

Rachel Ohm—
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