Virginia Southside Expansion
Historically low natural gas prices and the public’s desire for cleaner energy have fueled the growing popularity of natural gas. Clean-burning natural gas currently produces one-quarter of all electric generation and heats about half of all U.S. homes – and those numbers continue to climb.
Williams, one of the leading energy infrastructure companies in North America, has developed a proposal to serve growing natural gas markets in Virginia and North Carolina. Williams’ Transco natural gas pipeline currently transports approximately one quarter of the natural gas consumed in Virginia and nearly all of the gas consumed in North Carolina. The Virginia Southside Expansion would expand the existing Transco pipeline facilities in southern Virginia by 2015, allowing the pipeline to increase deliveries by 270,000 dekatherms per day.
The project is primarily designed to fuel Dominion Virginia Power’s new 1,300-megawatt electric power plant planned in Brunswick County, Va. Output from the Brunswick County facility is designed to replace the electricity generated by coal units at two eastern Virginia power stations, resulting in a net environmental benefit for the Commonwealth. In addition, the project will provide additional gas supply to Piedmont Natural Gas Company in North Carolina to serve its growing natural gas needs.
The project is designed to consist of approximately 100 miles of new 24-inch diameter pipeline extending from the Transco mainline in Pittsylvania County, Va., and into Halifax, Charlotte, Mecklenburg, and terminating in Brunswick County, Va.
In addition, as part of the proposal Williams is proposing to construct a state-of-the-art 21,800-horsepower gas turbine compressor station located in Pittsylvania County, Va. The facility would be located in close proximity to the existing Transco Station 165 in Chatham, Va.
If approved, construction would begin in September 2014.
Before the pipeline can be constructed, Williams must first obtain a federal Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), in addition to various state and local permits. In May 2012 Williams requested that FERC initiate a pre-filing environmental review of the pipeline proposal.
The FERC pre-filing process is intended to solicit early input from citizens, governmental entities and other interested parties to identify and address issues with potential facility locations. The company hosted a series of public open houses in the affected areas to formally introduce the proposal to the public and solicit feedback. Public input is important to us and can help shape the final project scope.
Following the pre-filing period, Williams filed its certificate application with the FERC in December 2012 seeking approval to construct the pipeline. The project was assigned docket number CP13-30. You may access the application and other project-related documentation at the FERC website.
Developing a Pipeline Route
By maximizing the use of our existing transmission corridor, our goal is to minimize the impact on property owners and the environment. The location of proposed pipeline facilities would be collocated with existing pipeline corridors or other easements for approximately 93% of the total route. A complete and thorough environmental analysis will be conducted as part of the FERC application process.
Ground surveys are a preliminary first step in gathering critical information that can be used in developing a pipeline proposal. Initial ground surveys (environmental, cultural and civil surveys) began in the spring of 2012. After receiving permission from the landowner, each property will be visited by various specialists in land, engineering and environmental sciences. These may or may not be concurrent visits but should not last longer than one or two days each. Some properties may need to be revisited to obtain additional data. All information collected will be used to help us determine the best location of the proposed pipeline facilities.
- May 2012 – Pre-filing process begins
- May 2012 – Ground surveys begin
- July 2012 – Open Houses and Informational Meetings
- September 2012 – FERC scoping hearings
- December 2012 – Submit 7(c) application to FERC
- September 2014 – Proposed construction start
- September 2015 – Target in-service
The project is designed to fuel the need for additional power generation in the region with clean-burning natural gas, replacing two coal-fired power plants in eastern Virginia. The change from coal to natural gas will reduce air emissions, resulting in a net environmental benefit for the State.
There will be significant short-term economic impact during the construction phase of the project. Restaurants, hotels/motels, and retailers will experience increased activity from construction crews. The state and local community will benefit economically through state and local sales and use taxes for the materials and equipment purchased to be installed at the job sites. Local communities will also benefit from property taxes that Williams will pay during the ongoing operation of the pipeline, estimated to be approximately $350,000 per year.
According to a 2012 economic impact study conducted by Chmura Economics & Analytics, the one-time construction of the Virginia Southside project can inject a total of $97.7 million into the economy of southern Virginia from 2014 to 2015, supporting 1,024 cumulative jobs in two years. The ongoing operations of the pipeline will have an annual impact of $2.1 million that supports nine jobs in the region.
Williams is committed to working with landowners, as well as local, state and federal agencies, to design and construct the project in a manner that minimizes environmental and landowner impacts. We are committed to extensive public outreach in advance of submitting our application to the FERC. Our goals are to:
- Generate a broad awareness of the project, its purposes and value to the region’s economy and to meeting the future energy needs of the state and region.
- Ensure that community residents and a broad range of stakeholders have ample opportunity to understand the process and their rights, ask questions, voice concerns and present ideas about the project.
- Ensure that Williams hears and understands the full range of stakeholder questions, concerns and feedback, and responds clearly and in a timely manner.
- Create an atmosphere of openness, disclosure and public dialogue in which we can respond to questions, concerns and suggestions presented by the community and other stakeholders.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us anytime.
Toll-free hotline: 866-455-9103
You may also call or write our land office, located at:
Virginia Southside Expansion Land Office
102 North Mecklenburg Avenue
South Hill, VA 23970