Landowner Frequently Asked Questions
The following frequently asked questions and answers are provided to assist those whose land may be affected by Paiute Pipeline Company’s (Paiute) proposed Elko Expansion Project.
Q: Who decides if the pipeline project gets built?
A: Interstate natural gas pipelines are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). As such, FERC requires operators like Paiute to obtain a federal certificate of public convenience and necessity, in addition to various state and local permits, before any pipeline facilities can be built.
Q: Will I be notified if the pipeline is going to affect my property?
A: Yes. Landowners whose property may be affected by the proposed route will receive a letter and/or a personal contact from a Paiute Pipeline representative notifying them of the various surveys that will take place on their property. Once Paiute begins the FERC pre-filing process, all potentially affected landowners will receive an information packet from the FERC and Paiute advising them that their property may be affected by the pipeline project. The letter will also include the dates and locations of public meetings and instructions for obtaining more information.
Q: What is the purpose of pipeline surveys?
A: Ground surveys are a preliminary first step in gathering critical information that can be used in developing a pipeline proposal. The process of conducting these surveys involves several steps. Generally, each property will be visited by various specialists in land, engineering and environmental sciences. These may or may not be concurrent visits. Some properties may need to be revisited to obtain additional data. All information collected will be used to help us determine the location of the proposed pipeline facilities. Nothing will be removed from your property without your permission. Vehicular traffic will be confined to existing roads and access ways. After the survey teams are finished, you may see survey stakes and/or ribbon tied to fences or vegetation. These markers are necessary to maintain a line of sight for the areas that have been surveyed. In areas where brush or tall grass is encountered, crews may need to cut some of this vegetation to maintain the line of sight. Some minor surface disturbance may also be required in order to collect soil samples. Our survey crews will take every precaution to ensure no damage to your property and will make every attempt to minimize any disruption of your daily activities.
Q: What is an easement?
A: An easement is a limited right to use the land for specific purposes. Should Paiute need to acquire a new easement, Paiute will compensate the landowner for the right to construct, operate and maintain an underground pipeline (and, in limited cases, aboveground equipment related to the pipeline, such as valves, and cathodic protection sites).
Q: What size will the easement be?
A: The amount of land required for the easement will vary on each tract of land depending on a number of factors. A Paiute representative will discuss the land requirements with the landowner during the easement negotiations. Typically, we will need an additional 25 feet of permanent easement for operation and maintenance of the pipeline. The total width of the construction workspace will vary depending on such factors as slope, soil conditions and regulatory requirements. Generally, approximately 80 to 125 feet of workspace will be required to construct the pipeline. In certain locations, a portion of the workspace may overlap the existing right of way. All temporary workspace will revert to the landowner upon completion of construction, with no restrictions.
Q: Will I still own my land? Can I still use it?
A: It is important to note that an easement does not transfer title of the land to Paiute; it merely grants the right to use the land for the specific purposes stated in the easement agreement. After construction of the pipeline, most uses of the surface of the land will be permitted, including farming activities such as crop production or raising livestock.
Q: Will the landowner be notified before construction begins on his or her property?
A: Paiute representatives will advise the landowner of the construction start date affecting your property. This will allow the landowner to schedule their activities in ways that minimize inconvenience for both parties. However, the availability of equipment, weather, labor and other factors can be unpredictable and might affect the actual start date.
Q: How long will construction occur on an owner’s land?
A: The length of time that the construction crews will be on your land will vary. Paiute will use reasonable efforts to keep the construction crews moving forward and minimize the time period in which your land is disturbed.
Q: When you’re finished with construction, what restrictions will I have on the use of the right of way?
A: You may return to normal surface uses of the land with limited restrictions. However, any digging, even for fencing, vegetation or drainage, is prohibited without first contacting the local One-Call system (simply dial 811) or a Paiute representative. No trees may be planted on the right of way. This is to prevent tree roots from damaging the pipeline coating. For more information on these restrictions, contact a Paiute representative.
Q: How will you restore my land after pipeline construction?
A: Land disturbed during the construction period will be returned to as close to original condition as possible. Paiute representatives will meet with all directly affected landowners to assess any particular issues or concerns that the landowner may have, such as impact to landscaping or structures such as fences, sheds or playground equipment. Landowners will be compensated for physical damages to property not restored by our contractor following construction.
Q: Will the landowner see bulldozers and pick-up trucks driving on their land?
A: All construction activities will be restricted to the right-of-way and temporary workspaces areas granted to Paiute by the landowner. Only these roads agreed to in advance will be used by the construction crews.
Q: How will the pipeline affect land drainage?
A: The right-of-way will be graded after construction to allow normal water drainage. All drainages will be returned to their original patterns. The right-of-way may be terraced, seeded, mulched or otherwise stabilized to prevent erosion.
Q: What should a landowner do if it’s discovered that his or her utilities have been damaged during construction activities?
A: The situation is highly unlikely, but in an effort to prepare for every circumstance, you may contact Paiute personnel in the event of such a mishap. Please be sure you point out the location of any underground utilities or structures to Paiute’s representative prior to construction to minimize the potential for disruptions.
Q: How can one view copies of public documents on the project?
A: The public documents can be found on the right side of the project website, the FERC e-library by searching by the Docket Number. Once the formal application is filed with the FERC (expected June 2014), copies of the public documents will also be available for review at the Elko County Library located at 720 Court Street in Elko.
FERC's website contains additional resources for landowners and other persons interested in this project. “Your Guide to Electronic Information at FERC" explains how to access and file information from FERC. "An Interstate Natural Gas Facility on My Land" outlines FERC's process of evaluating a proposed interstate pipeline construction project. Both guides also explain how interested persons can let their voices be heard regarding the Project.