The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 23, 2013

Ashtabula County Township Association learns more about oil and gas drilling regulations

Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — The regulatory aspect of potential oil and gas drilling was the topic at Thursday’s meeting of the Ashtabula County Township Association.

About 60 local officials attended the meeting, held Thursday night at the Ashtabula County Engineer’s Office.

Tom Hill, regional supervisor for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management, spoke on the division’s enforcement of Ohio Revised Code 1509.

“Our mission is to provide for safe and environmentally sound development and restoration of fossil fuel extraction sites,” Hill said. “The division has sole authority to regulate permitting, drilling, well completion, site restoration and all aspects of oil and gas drilling in the state of Ohio.”

The division has increased from 14 to about 45 inspectors throughout the past few years, who oversee activity such as “orphan” wells, managing the plugging of improperly abandoned wells and idle wells.

Ashtabula County boasts 15 active underground injection wells. The division regulates the disposal of brine and other wastes associated with drilling.

The gas and oil industry predicts the numbers of shale wells in Ohio will increase from the current 199 to more than 2,000 by 2015.

By 2014, the value added to Ohio’s economy is projected to be $4,857,632, with an additional 65,680 jobs.

The current status of electric power was addressed by John E. Skory, regional president of The Illuminating Company, along with David Dillon, Mia Moore and Martin Kuula.

Skory said, “Our purpose is to provide reliable energy to our customers,” which include 750,000 customers across Ashtabula, Lake, Geauga and Cuyahoga counties.

The Illuminating Company has put $9.5 million into its pole replacement program over the past two years, and is striving to improve reliability with substation upgrades across the region. A new $24 million substation is being built in Huntsburg, which will serve four substations in Ashtabula County.

Ashtabula County Township Association President and Plymouth Township Trustee Debbie Friedstrom welcomed guests Ohio House Representative John Patterson (D-Jefferson); County Auditor Roger Corlett; Janice Switzer and Brenda Williams, Ashtabula County Community Services and Planning, and Nate Paskey, Ashtabula County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Next month’s ACTA meeting will feature Rhonda Reda, executive director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Foundation.