Pipeline gets go-ahead from federal agency

Published 3:57 pm Friday, October 20, 2017

With a federal seal of approval in hand, the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline has moved much closer to becoming a reality, and one that will affect Southampton County.

Leslie Hartz, Dominion Energy’s Vice President, Engineering and Construction, recently had this to say about the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s granting a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. In a press release, she stated, “We are very pleased to receive FERC approval for this vitally important project. This is the most significant milestone yet for a project that will bring jobs, economic growth and cleaner energy to our region. In the coming days we will fully review the certificate and finalize our plans for complying with its conditions. We will also continue working with the other state and federal agencies to complete the environmental review process and make this critically important project a reality.”

The Tidewater News reported on Sept. 3, 2014, that the day before, four large energy companies announced they would be working to build and own the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. That would provide natural gas to customers in Virginia and North Carolina. The companies are Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources.

Dominion had stated that the pipeline would tap into natural gas found in shale basins of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Ranging in cost from $4.5 billion to $5 billion, the 550-mile pipeline would come from Harrison County, West Virginia, would go southeast through Virginia with an extension to Chesapeake and south to Robeson County in central North Carolina. Locally, the pipeline would be in the southern part of Southampton County, staying south of Route 58, but crossing Route 258 as it goes into Suffolk.

For county residents wondering whether they could tap into the pipeline for their homes, the answer was no, and the explanation was this from Dominion Energy’s communications director at the time, Jim Norvelle: “This is a natural gas transmission pipeline that operates at high pressure. A distribution company such as VNG 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 line.”

Amanda Jarratt, president and CEO of Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc., said in reaction to the announcement, “This project is a long time coming. We are excited about the opportunity to build new infrastructure that will bring natural gas to new and underserved parts of Virginia.

“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will bring needed energy resources to communities like Franklin-Southampton, to heat homes, power businesses and expand economic development opportunities.

“Tapping into our nation’s abundant supply of clean-burning natural gas will allow us to strengthen the regional Hampton Roads economy while improving the quality of our environment.”