Pipeline taps?

Published 6:12 pm Sunday, September 7, 2014

RICHMOND, VA – With the announcement of Dominion Energy’s 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) passing through the local area, questions were posed if taps along the line would be possible?

Well, the answer is yes….and no.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Northampton County Board of Commissioners where Michael A. Thompson, Manager of State and Local Affairs for Dominion North Carolina Power, briefed the board about the project, he mentioned the possibility of taps along the transmission line – one that begins in Harrison County, West Virginia and ends in Roberson County, NC.

“Gary (Brown, Northampton Economic Development Director) and I will be closely talking about the building blocks on what is necessary to build a tap off this pipeline and what is needed to do that,” Thompson said.

Later in the meeting, Thompson again mentioned tapping into this high-pressure line.

“What does it take to get a tap on the line,” Thompson queried. “Well, we’re not really sure. We know what it costs us to make a tap on the line. We need to find what it will take for an industrial customer or an industrial park to have us put a tap on this line. Having that information as quickly as possible is vital as placing a tap on the line during its construction is less expensive on us and for you to do it then rather than later.”

Meanwhile, a conflicting statement from a Dominion official surfaced earlier this week.

Dominion spokesperson Jim Norvelle told the Suffolk (VA) News-Herald (a sister publication of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald), “This is a natural gas transmission pipeline that operates at high pressure. A distribution company such as Virginia Natural Gas takes the gas, reduces the pressure and sends it out on its distribution system to residential or commercial customers. That’s the reason that you just can’t hook up to the (transmission) line.”

In an effort to learn more about the possibility of placing a tap on this transmission line, the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald asked for clarification. A response was received Friday from Frank Mack, Manager of Dominion Transmission Communications.

Mack explained that as of Sept. 3, Dominion announced that 92 percent of the ACP capacity has been subscribed.  The company will hold a binding open season later this year to confirm these subscriptions and to provide the opportunity for customers to contract for the remaining firm transportation capacity (approximately 135 million cubic feet per day).

In regards to the taps, Mack said since the ACP is a large-scale, high-volume pipeline, it is not suited to small interconnections for direct residential or commercial customers.

“However, it may be appropriate for interconnections from local distribution companies and larger industrial loads,” Mack said.

He added that, in general, where the ACP crosses territory already served by a local natural gas distribution company, potential customers should first work directly with their local distributor before approaching the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

“Local distribution companies that have secured transportation from Atlantic Coast may have increased their capability to handle new customer load,” Mack noted.

“Counties along the route are encouraged to work with their economic development staffs to determine if there is enough potential interest to warrant a tap along the 42-inch diameter line in Virginia, the 36-inch line in North Carolina or the 20-inch lateral to Hampton Roads. Where these potential industrial or other large customers are not within an existing local natural gas distribution service area, Atlantic Coast Pipeline encourages them to contact Dominion’s business and economic development representatives,” Mack concluded.

ACP is a $4.5 billion joint venture between Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, and AGL Resources (Atlanta Gas & Light) and is expected to begin delivering natural gas to customers in late 2018. AGL Resources is the parent company of Virginia Natural Gas.

The pipeline’s projected path will cover nine miles of Northampton County real estate, entering the state/county at Pleasant Hill and tracking just east of US 301 before crossing the Roanoke River into Halifax County.

At Tuesday’s meeting in Jackson, Thompson announced that 94 percent of affected landowners (48 parcels) in Northampton County have given Dominion permission to survey their property. Crews are surveying and obtaining information from affected landowners along the way to determine the best route with least impacts to the environment, historic and cultural resources.

Dominion has scheduled several upcoming informational sessions with landowners as well as the general public. Locally, a session is planned for Tuesday, Sept. 23 at The Centre at Halifax Community College, 100 College Drive, in Weldon. There, project officials will meet with landowners within the proposed study corridor from 5-6:30 p.m. The general public is invited to come in from 6:30-8 p.m. for their portion of the informational session.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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