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Gas pipeline envisioned to run through Mecklenburg County

SoVaNow.com / June 25, 2014
Houston-based Spectra Energy is reaching out to residents of Mecklenburg County to clear the way for a proposed natural gas line passing through the county from north to south.

Introductory letters have gone out to local residents seeking permission to survey potentially affected lands as Spectra Energy Partners, LP evaluates the feasibility of installing an interstate natural gas pipeline, running from Bedford, Pa., to North Carolina.

Arthur Diestel, Spectra Energy stakeholder relations manager, stressed that this Spectra Energy project is not connected to work being done on the Williams Transco pipeline, an expansion of an existing Transco pipeline in southern Virginia. The new Williams Transco line is primarily designed to fuel Dominion Virginia Power’s 1,300-megawatt electric power plant being built in Brunswick County. That pipeline runs east to west following an existing Transco corridor.

Diestal said his company is “in the early stages of evaluating a proposed interstate natural gas pipeline, the Spectra Energy Pipeline Project, in response to growing market needs in the mid and south Atlantic regions, both for power generation and for local distribution to consumers.”

While there is no definite route, Spectra’s proposed route has the pipeline passing west of South Hill and abutting US Highway 1 as it travels through Mecklenburg County.

The impetus for this project, Diestel said, is a response to the solicitation for service from Duke Energy, which announced plans to convert, over the next several years, existing power plants from coal to natural gas throughout the mid and south Atlantic regions.

“No decision has been made by Duke Energy regarding the solicitation. Spectra Energy is voluntarily initiating several activities to maintain the proposed schedule,” Diestel said.

The cost for the proposed Spectra Energy Pipeline Project is estimated at $4 billion.

When asked about the project, County Administrator Wayne Carter said his only contact with Spectra Energy was an email which appeared to be the same as the introductory letter sent to local landowners telling them:

“You are likely receiving this letter because your property may be within or very near the study corridor being considered [for the proposed pipeline] and for that reason we will soon send an additional letter to you related to our survey needs and practices.”

The letter was accompanied by a two-page fact sheet addressing what Spectra Energy cites as “Frequently asked questions.” Carter said he passed the letter along to members of the Board of Supervisors.

Spectra Energy Corp., a Fortune 500 company, is one of North America’s leading pipeline and midstream companies. Based in Houston, Texas, the company’s operations in the United States and Canada include more than 22,000 miles of natural gas, natural gas liquids, and crude oil pipelines; approximately 305 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas storage; 4.8 million barrels of crude oil storage; as well as natural gas gathering, processing, and local distribution operations. Diestel said a project like the one being considered is expected to create a significant number of jobs as well as capital investment and tax base in the five states through which it will run, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina.

The project is currently under review by the Piedmont Environmental Council, an environmental watchdog group out of northern Virginia. The council works to promote and protect the Virginia Piedmont’s rural economy, natural resources, history and beauty.

The group’s executive director, Dan Holmes, said he foresees problems with the proposed plan even before building commences. His biggest concern is with the proposed route, which Holmes said runs through several federally protected sites including Montpelier, the Orange County home of President James Madison.

He also expressed concerns with the manner in which Spectra is seeking permission to survey properties along the proposed corridor. According to Holmes, affected landholders must be notified by certified mail, and this has not been done.

In response, Diestel stressed that the proposed Spectra Energy project is “in the early stages of evaluation” and that the letters issued to affected landowners were “introductory only.”

If Spectra moves forward with the construction of the pipeline, it will be regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which will review all plans and conduct its own environmental study of the project. The company will, by law, then hold a series of public meetings where stakeholders will be allowed to comment on the proposed pipeline.

More than likely, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will weigh in on the project since the proposed site at which it crosses into North Carolina traverses Buggs Island Lake and surrounding Corps property.

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If the criminals in Washington cared so much about financially helping taxpayers then why do idiots like the Army Corps of Engineers get an annual right of way permit fee which they can terminate in 30 years or less while landowners get a one time permanent easement payment? Government serves it's self.


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