As part of the Northeast Supply Link project, Williams is proposing to construct a new, state-of-the-art 25,000-horsepower compressor facility along its Transco pipeline in Essex County, N.J.
What is a Compressor Station?
Compressor stations, sometimes called pumping stations, are the “engine” that powers an interstate natural gas pipeline. As the name implies, the compressor station compresses the natural gas, (increasing its pressure) to push the gas through the pipeline.
Pipeline companies install compressor stations along their pipelines, typically one every 40 to 100 miles. The size and the number of compressors varies, based on the diameter of the pipe and the volume of gas to be moved. Nevertheless, the basic components of a station are similar.
Most compressor stations are automated so that the compressors can be started, controlled and stopped from a central control location regardless of the weather conditions, time of day, or day of the week. The automation system also acts to protect the equipment, facility, and surrounding area in the event that the equipment is not operating as it was intended. The operators of the system continuously monitor and adjust the mix of compressors that are running to maximize efficiency as well as keeping detailed operating data on each compressor station. The control center also can remotely operate shut-off valves along the pipeline system.
Williams’ preferred location for the Essex County compressor facility is on Eagle Rock Avenue, near Eisenhower Parkway within the boundaries of property currently under contract for purchase by Williams. This preferred location provides access to the existing Williams pipelines and facilities adjacent to the proposed location on Eagle Rock Avenue.
This location meets the requirements necessary for siting a natural gas pipeline compressor station. Some of the factors that were considered include physical constraints such as proximity to the existing pipeline, access to electric power, pipeline hydraulics, compatibility with local zoning, land use and land development, site terrain, water table and storm water management, and site accessibility. Williams also evaluated a number of environmental factors, including potential impacts to nearby residences. This includes a detailed analysis of the project’s effect on wildlife, vegetation, wetlands, water bodies and groundwater, geology, soils, land use, air and noise quality.
This new station, to be called Compressor Station 303, will consist of 25,000-hp electric motor driver (EMD) compression and its associated equipment, piping, and valves. There will be three buildings constructed on the site including the compressor building, an office/control building, and a warehouse for storage.
Williams is incorporating a sustainable design approach in the development of its Essex County, N.J., compressor facility, representing the company’s first “green station.” By utilizing skillful, sensitive design, Williams aims to reduce potential negative environmental impact caused during construction or facility operations.
A number of environmental surveys (threatened and endangered species surveys, wetlands surveys and archeological site surveys) have already been conducted to identify any potential environmental impacts. No significant impacts have been identified. A soil erosion plan will be in place to minimize erosion impacts during construction.
As part of the design process, an independent acoustical consultant will be engaged to conduct a sound study to assess the impact to nearby Noise Sensitive Areas (NSAs) , which are defined as residences, schools or hospitals. The design for this facility will be based on certificate conditions expected to be set forth by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The current FERC policies limit the noise attributable to the new facility to a day-night average of 55 dBA at nearby NSAs. This is the approximate equivalent sound of a normal household refrigerator.
Safety & Security
The station will be equipped with federally-required and industry-recognized safety features such as pressure relief valves, emergency shutdown systems, and gas detection devices. The facility is planned to be staffed by onsite personnel during normal business hours. Outside normal business hours, the station will be fully automated for remote operation and monitored 24/7 by Williams’ operations center in Houston.