What’s That Being Built In Molino? It’s Bigger Than You Think

December 4, 2019

NorthEscambia.com has received numerous questions about what is being built along Highway 29 near Jimmy’s Grill, and we’ve learned that it involves a project much larger than the 18 acre lot.

“Gulf Power is using as a staging site for the pipe in preparation for the construction of the Crist Lateral Pipeline,” said Kimberly Blair, spokesperson for Gulf Power. The property is located on the east side of Highway 29 just south of Chance Road.

As NorthEscambia.com first reported last February, Gulf Power is constructing an underground natural gas pipeline from Century to Plant Crist, a power plant that is being converted from coal burning to natural gas.

The proposed natural gas pipeline will run about 39 miles from the existing Florida Gas Transmission Pipeline near the Florida/Alabama border outside Century south through McDavid, Molino and Cantonment to Plant Crist on Pate Street just northwest of the University of West Florida. Over 85 percent of the proposed route will  be located on existing right of way like Gulf Power transmission line corridors.

“Construction is expected to be begin in early 2020, after we receive all permits,” Blair said Tuesday.

The Gulf Power documents indicate the conversion of Plant Crist to natural gas will mean cleaner energy and projected lower bills for customers. It is estimated the project would create 375 “good-paying” jobs at peak construction and $37 million in tax revenue for Escambia County during the 35-year operating life of the pipeline.

NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.


36 Responses to “What’s That Being Built In Molino? It’s Bigger Than You Think”

  1. Leon on February 2nd, 2020 1:51 pm

    Does anyone know what’s the name of the construction company doing the hiring for heavy equipment operator jobs.

  2. The Safety Viking on December 13th, 2019 4:08 pm

    My background first: I am a Safety Professional. I have worked in renewable energy (onshore & offshore wind, solar, hydroelectric), fossil power (coal, gas/steam turbines), and nuclear power. Transmission/Distribution lines, sub-stations, power house construction…the list goes on & on.

    I, too, live in the area and understand the concerns or just the “I wonder…?” questions a lot of you have…

    Just a few points…

    I speak for me. Not my company.

    Yes, this (converting coal ["dirt-burners" in the trade] to gas/steam turbines) has been done at many other locations in the US. I have participated in 4.

    There is NO net loss of jobs. Most power plants MUST retain existing positions/recruit new folks; as the manpower needed to operate & maintain any power plant (but solar) is both extensive and specialized.

    The figures for ‘temporary jobs’ is probably on the conservative side to be honest. Most of the construction companies involved in this project bring in outsiders as well as local talent. The outsiders will need camper space, hotels, rentals, laundry services, and bars. Lots of bars. Perhaps a local bail bondsman. And restaurants. And convenience stores. Starbucks. etc. Some extra coin is coming in the form of sales, sales tax, and nobody’s favorite but still necessary ’service industry’ jobs that support these businesses. etc.

    I welcome any specific questions…

  3. Rasheed Jackson on December 6th, 2019 10:35 am

    @ Employee,
    Had you asked what wears a tire I would have said the road but you asked, “exactly what plant equipment is coal hard on ?” and I gave you a list but you want to disallow it. What blowers you ask, well for starters how about FD Fans, or ID Fans. Not that they are designed to actually blow coal or coal dust but being in a power house that burns coal one knows the coal dust is every where, and even manages to get in the air duct that houses these fans/blowers so they too are subjected to the wear that is brought on by the abrasive coal. then there is the Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary air system. The fans on these systemOf course I did say Blowers so for clarifications, these are fans use to push or pull air through the boilers, and burners. Then there are the soot blowers, now not to confuse anyone, they do not employ a fan element, they use steam to clean the inside of boilers but they are a high maintenance item that is subjected to the abrasive coal dust. Don’t even get me started on the Precipitator, and ash systems that go along with burning coal. Not enough time or space.

  4. Local Lady on December 5th, 2019 2:11 pm

    Trust your Lord, and trust the process. I have had it done too and I had to remember to breath at times, but it gets better. This is for the greater good of our Earth as a whole. For generations to come. Please have faith and pray!

  5. Sherry on December 5th, 2019 8:18 am

    I totally understand the incredible frustration over the “imminent domain, gonna take tour land anyway-buck up”. This isn’t 1776, and we didn’t pay $5 for our property. But I accept we can’t win against gulf power. My concern is more than so many commenters seem to think burning coal for power is a GOOD thing. Coal is dirty! Messy, spoils the air and kills miners! What is wrong with folks! You’re concerned about an explosion you may have seen on tv, but we KNOW, in real life land, that coal is majorly destructive to our environment. Florida’s environment is in serious danger already!

  6. Some Guy on December 4th, 2019 9:13 pm

    @ Employee. Sorry to use the term convert loosely. I well understand they got off to the east and built a whole new gas fired plant. The meter station and pipeline come in from the left side of the road just before the gate to the plant. 16” pipe that comes down hey 77 from the north.

  7. GasMan on December 4th, 2019 8:40 pm

    Wow Rasheed…well stated. One item you forgot is the hours required to unload the coal from a barge via crane. Pile it up, push the pile around…

    Another shocking statistic in how inefficient a coal plant is. About 60% of the power they make is consumed by the plant itself. Gas plants are about 50% efficient.

  8. Jo bob on December 4th, 2019 8:10 pm

    Mcdavid and Debbie. You can fight all you want but at the end of the day, their lawyer makes more and you’ll get stiffed and they’ll take it from you. There’s so many things you don’t know about that are around the corner that are so much worse and have a blast radius of 100 times bigger but you’re not complaining about that.

  9. Tom on December 4th, 2019 7:39 pm

    375 temporary jobs wow, how about all the permanent jobs that will be lost at the crist plant due to this conversion???

  10. Employee on December 4th, 2019 7:19 pm

    @ Rasheed Jackson, that’s like saying pavement is bad for tires because it wears them out. The pulverizers was designed to grind coal and metal that gets by the magnetic separator destroys them way before the coal that is being fed into them. As far as blowers, what blowers ?

  11. Employee on December 4th, 2019 6:54 pm

    @ someguy, smith plant has no converted units. They built a CC and shut down smith 1&2 coal units when it was owned by southern company.

  12. Rasheed Jackson on December 4th, 2019 6:15 pm

    Concerning, “exactly what plant equipment is coal hard on ?” Pretty much everything it comes in contact with, starting with the bulldozers used to push it around on the pile to the conveyors that move it from the pile to the plant. Coal is very abrasive and everything it touches wears out fast. Then you have the pulverizers that are used to turn it into a power form before it is blown into the boiler. And don’t forget the blowers. All this equipment require constant maintenance as do the motors that are used to put them in motion. I have worked in and around several coal fired boilers in my life and I speak from experience, Gas is better when it comes to wear on equipment. Not to mention it takes less equipment to get it from the ground to the boilers.

  13. KM on December 4th, 2019 6:00 pm

    Thank you Debbie
    My thoughts you bought to the surface. This is not a good thing for the property owners. The money doesn’t even scratch the surface, how about including the taxes the owner has to pay on the payments? Or something equivalent?
    Just idea.. I dont know. But I’m not caving.

  14. Molino neighbor on December 4th, 2019 5:10 pm

    It would seem a lot more dangerous to use the existing line which is much older, obviously making it less durable than a brand new one. I will tell you from personal experience if you don’t accept an offer and it goes to court you may not get anything at all. You want to fight them just to be able to dig on your property when it will be covered up afterwards. No eyesores or anything of that nature. If you’re worried about that leaks or explosions then I say do your homework because these lines have been around for years and years and you rarely hear of anything ever happening 99.9% of them run smoothly and efficiently. Natural gas is cleaner and way more efficient. Don’t you want your children your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren to be able to breathe clean air. Coal immisions pollute the air and kill our planet. Think of your children and your grandchildren before making narrow-minded comments bashing Gulf Power for their decision. Someone has giving you wrong information if you really think it’s legal for them to put the pipes just below the surface, they have to dig to safe depths for it to even be legal. And I’m not sure how this could affect farmers or livestock seeing as how it is going below ground not above. Won’t change anything on the surface. All I’m saying is do your homework. Find out the facts before jumping on social media and making yourself look like an uneducated fool.

  15. Allen Lee on December 4th, 2019 4:53 pm

    They are not using the existing transmission line right of way they going 100 feet to the East ,taking out all the trees ,but we get to keep paying taxes and up keep can’t plant more or put anything on it.You don’t own land all you have is paper deed.I hope the people that think it’s a good thing don’t really think their power bill is going down.I retired with what I wanted now it’s about to change .How would you feel if they were taking your land.

  16. Some Guy on December 4th, 2019 4:51 pm

    @ Debbie I hope you get a good settlement from them, I do. But, that line will be laid. And I hope they leave it looking good too. No job EVER has been able to get 100% satisfaction to all involved. As this is part of the national power grid, it will happen.

  17. Debbie on December 4th, 2019 4:26 pm

    @ Some Guy
    Is this billion dollar company taking your property, beautiful trees, wildlife and disrupting your privacy?
    You seem to think it’s a good thing?

  18. Some Guy on December 4th, 2019 3:29 pm

    @ Hank. The existing lines a way too small and the gas in them is already obligated to different customers. Coal and it’s use had gotten too expensive and environmentally bad.

    @ Anthony You can drive just a little near here and see two converted plants. One is Powersouth in Gantt Alabama, (which gets their gas from Florida Gas, also in Flomaton) Gulf Power Smith Plant in Panama City. It’s been converted for several years now. The dollars and cents end of natural gas being cheaper is old news. The pipe will be hydrostatically tested to it’s maximum strength and divided into sections by mainline valves. They have a stack of regulations to follow. The expense involved in upkeep is gonna be on par with power line upkeep.

    @ K.M. The livestock will be probably moved or fenced bac while construction is underway. Afterwards, the fences will be removed and restored to original condition. Yes, livestock can be grazed over it and you can farm over it. Ride up to Atmore and see for yourself.

    @ EMD Yes, there have been pipeline blowouts in the past. Nowadays, vast majority are caused by outside parties, i.e., digging into and damaging the line. Look up 811.

    @ McDavid Look up cathodic protection on pipe.

    More info on pipeline safety look up PHMSA and the 811 system.

  19. Debbie on December 4th, 2019 3:20 pm

    This has been literally a nightmare!!!! We have gotten sick thinking about it.
    They are not using their exciting right away. They want 100 feet east of that which is most of our property! We aren’t signing!! We have fought and will fight to the end. If this 30 inch pipeline should break or crack we and all surrounding areas will have to evacuate. If it blows up we will more than likely die. We love our home, we love our property and I just don’t see how this can happen! A huge company that could care less.

  20. McDavid on December 4th, 2019 2:02 pm

    Sure it’s all fun and games until it’s your yard. I’ve had an atty for months. This has a blast radius of 900 ft. How close is it to you? It’s not really underground per se. more like just below the surface. Was told they disrupt ground magnetism for safety reasons. They’ve been taking people’s land for as little as $100

  21. Jo bob on December 4th, 2019 1:55 pm


    You’re right. But I’ve worked it for the past 8 years and dealt with going through people’s land. We are hounded every day about small things. The ones that are the issue were the ones that thought they deserved things and ended up getting stiffed because they wouldn’t accept anything. The ones that were happy took the offers and got their money and the pipeline was put in and forgotten.

  22. John Milo on December 4th, 2019 1:46 pm

    How many times have you heard the line “it will provide cleaner power and lower bills”? Wait and see, they will come back later and say with over runs in construction cost, we will have to raise rates to cover the unexpected cost. Once the price of our power goes up, it will never go back down. Lowering cost after a raise to cover unexpected construction cost, never materialize!

  23. Bernard on December 4th, 2019 1:43 pm

    Just trying to find out who the contractor is that will be installing the gas line I love to throw my name in the Hat as an operator install the line from operated in your skull the line from the cut off their to Pensacola so if you’re at liberty to put the contractors name a website up I’d appreciate it greatly if not is there a job site posting

  24. EMD on December 4th, 2019 11:53 am

    Anyone ever heard of what happened in Villa Rica Georgia Around 11:00 a.m. on December 5, 1957? And, I do not see as much responsibility, sanity, work ethic and integrity now as I did then. I was only 15 years old, but remember that. And, teenagers then seemed to have more integrity and work ethic than I see today.

  25. KM on December 4th, 2019 11:08 am

    Jo Bob, you obviously do not have a proposed pipeline planned for your property. I have done research. Dont be quick to judge my friend. Enough said. Some are concerned citizens.

  26. Crazy on December 4th, 2019 10:34 am

    Hey..I have a great idea…since it’s going to be ran to Century..we could tie in to their gas and it would be FREE…I’ll check with Hawkins and see if we can get it aranged…

  27. Employee on December 4th, 2019 10:10 am

    @ gasman, exactly what plant equipment is coal hard on ?

  28. Alan on December 4th, 2019 10:09 am

    Hank, Gulf Power Crist does have an existing line, it is just not big enough to run all the units at the plant.

    Anthony, there are buried gas lines all over the country and I would guess 99.9999% of them operate without issue. There is plenty of evidence Natural Gas is cleaner than coal and at the current price of $2-3/MMBtu is also cheaper. Sorry I can’t help with the rest of your questions.

  29. GasMan on December 4th, 2019 9:56 am

    Burning coal to make electricity is VERY labor intensive. You’d be shocked at the number of people required to get coal in the boiler. Plus coal is very hard on the equipment.

    Then there’s the problem of what to do with the ash created from burning coal.
    It’s not exactly harmless…

    Gas is pretty much hands off.

  30. Employee on December 4th, 2019 9:40 am

    Anthony, the only jobs the gas line is going to temporary create is out of town contractor jobs to install it. Nextera has already cut jobs at the plant in preparation of the gas conversion and once in place will slash over 50% of the jobs that are currently at plant crist. The new CT’s will be unmanned also.

  31. K on December 4th, 2019 9:37 am

    @hank: United Gas’s pipeline is old and either already is or is about to be retired in place.

    @Anthony: (1) the plant will continue to operate as expected – so it’s more of a “jobs during construction” kind of thing. (2) given the age of the existing supply pipeline, installing a new one that meets even tougher safety standards and retiring the one in service now is the best anti-explosion measure to take.
    (3) the maintenance expense on pipelines is figured into the lifetime operating cost of the installation – the company has set aside projected funds and pays people to maintain it. Most of this is in the form of routine inspections that are required at a set internval – quarterly pressure tests, annual recertifiications, and more.

    For the cleaner and cheaper question: it is definitely cheaper, as there is so much of it available for use. cleaner is a bit sticky: it definitely releases less CO2 during combustion – around 40 % less. however, methane released during production of natural gas must be limited to less than 5 % due to its ability to act as a greenhouse gas for the 40% less CO2 to be a real benefit. a google search for “natural gas versus coal” will yield a ton of results for your study.

    As for how the tax revenue generated will be used…. I’m a bit cynical about that. Mainly because it’s a projected revenue, and not an actual revenue – a counting your chickens before they’ve hatched kind of thing.

  32. CW on December 4th, 2019 9:33 am


    It’s pretty well known that natural gas is cleaner and cheaper than coal. The only ones put out of work from this are the coal miners in Appalachia, and I do feel sorry for those people, but it’s the way things are going.

  33. Jo bob on December 4th, 2019 9:10 am

    How are they diminishing property value? If anything, anybody that has the line going through their property gets paid. Has a power plant been run off natural gas anywhere else in the country? Absolutely. There are countless measures, books stacked higher than a human being, about precautions they have to take and hoops they’re forced to jump through, to prevent explosions. They don’t just put a pipeline in the ground and not care if it explodes. The existing line might not be to code as in the quality of the pipe, who put it together, and information on it. So they’re making a new one because it would be cheaper than replacing the one that’s there. Just do a little bit of research and see what you come up with.

  34. K.M. on December 4th, 2019 7:57 am

    Hank thank you.
    No , instead they are diminishing property value of those that call home in Molino. It’s pretty scary. Do the farmers have to relocate livestock? I am concerned and I will have legal counsel. I might not win but I’m not giving in without a fight.

  35. Anthony on December 4th, 2019 5:37 am

    Has this been done anywhere else in the country?
    How many jobs are being lost due to the switch vs how many are being made?
    Is there evidence that natural gas is cleaner and evidence that it is cheaper?
    What measures are taken to ensure that an explosion won’t occur?
    What is Escambia going to do with the 37 million dollars in tax revenue?
    Over time how expensive is the maintenance on these pipelines?

  36. Hank on December 4th, 2019 3:36 am

    I wonder why they aren’t using the existing natural gas line (originally owned by United Gas) that used to feed the Crist plant for many years. Florida Gas can’t be that much cheaper to run a 39 mile pipeline to replace what’s already there.

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