Ohio Supreme Court to continue considering Duke Energy pipeline case

The Village of Evendale Municipal Building. Photo from the Village of Evendale website.

The Ohio Supreme Court will again consider arguments in an appeal related to a natural gas pipeline Duke Energy, Ohio, Inc., wants to bring to Hamilton County.

The state’s highest court asked that parties in the case file arguments within 20 days so that the court can proceed with consideration of the case.

The case involves several cities within the area of the Central Corridor Pipeline project, a natural gas pipeline Duke Energy is trying to build to extend service to those areas. The pipeline would impact the village of Evendale, the cities of Reading and Blue Ash. A group representing those areas and others in the area of the planned pipeline formed a group, Neighbors Against Pipeline Extension, LLC (NOPE), which is also named as a party against the OPSB and Duke Energy.

The energy company applied with the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) for a certificate of environmental compatibility to build the pipeline starting in September 2016. 

A public hearing was held on June 15, 2017, and in April 2019, Evendale Mayor Richard Finan and Service Director/Engineer James Jeffers “made a number of factual arguments about the adverse impact of the Duke Pipeline on the Village of Evendale,” according to court documents.

The letter said the expansion of the pipeline would “negatively impact about 20% of village residents,” and said Duke and the OPSB never “meaningfully explored how the replacement of existing peaking plants would be accomplished.”

“Finally, Evendale claimed that Duke and the OPSB displayed a disregard to the financial damage resulting from this project,” court documents stated.

The cities of Reading and Blue Ash joined in with their concerns, but OPSB issued the certificate of environmental compatibility in November 2019. The cities, along with NOPE were denied a rehearing by the OPSB, saying the group and cities “failed to meet the specificity requirement” to be reheard, moving the case along to the Ohio Supreme Court.

The last activity in the case was in June of this year, when attorneys for the village of Evendale opposed the OPSB motion to dismiss the village’s reasons for appeal. The siting board also argued that the Ohio Supreme Court lacks the jurisdiction to oversee the case.

Attorneys for Evendale said even if the court deemed the village’s specific arguments insufficient, it should remain a part of the suit because they remain a part of NOPE.

“As neighboring communities, and community members, these issues impact Evendale as well,” the village wrote to the court.

The parties tell the court the OPSB’s decision was “unreasonable” because evidence exists of Evendale’s concerns, and the siting board “did not fully address Evendale’s request for a more thorough examination as to why it ignored other routes for the pipeline which were preferred by Duke, and instead ordered the alternate route.”

The website regarding the pipeline says Duke Energy expects to start construction in Late Fall 2020/Winter 2021, and finish construction a year later.