Several energy companies are currently bidding for the chance to build a pipeline to transport natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina.
One of those companies has been traveling to local governments in the five West Virginia counties their proposed pipeline would run through.
Dominion's Southeast Reliability Project would construct a 550 mile-long pipeline starting around Kincheloe in Harrison County, then through Lewis, Upshur, Randolph and Pocahontas counties before running through Virginia to North Carolina. It would consist of 42-inch diameter pipe in West Virginia and Virginia and then 36-inch pipe in North Carolina, transporting an estimated 1.5 billion cubic feet per day.
Bob Orndorff, Managing Director of State and Local Government Affairs for Dominion visited the Harrison County Commission on Thursday and explained why the company wanted to begin the pipeline their with the construction of one of three compressor stations along the route.
"There's certain aggregation points along the way where there's a lot of gas and that's where you have to start," he said. "What's taken place in the Marcellus in Harrison, Lewis, Doddridge and all the surrounding counties, we look at where some of our pipe is now and [the proposed pipe] is going to have to be adding to that pipe and that location looked like the best location for us."
While Orndorff said the pipeline route is set four Harrison County, the remaining path has not yet been determined. The notified landowners in mid-May before conducting surveys withing a 400-foot wide study area to determine the best route based on landowner input and an assessment of environmental, historic and cultural impacts.
Wherever the pipeline does wind up traveling, Orndorff said there will be both an immediate economic impact and a long-term impact. Short-term, he pointed to job creation to assist in the construction of the pipeline which would lead to economic activity for local hotels, restaurants, convenience stores and other businesses.
For the future, Orndorff said "This will spur on increased production throughout North Central West Virginia, adding many full-time jobs not only on the operate the pipeline. On the service side we use a lot of service companies and we'll be having additional needs for service companies to support us during the construction of both the pipeline and the compressor station."
Property tax revenues and increased production and severance tax were also mentioned possible benefits.
Again, the project is not finalized but Orndorff said more will be known once it is decided which company will be the one to construct the pipeline.
"Our customers will make a decision fairly soon, hopefully, whether we achieve the contract or somebody else does. Once that takes place, more information will be forthcoming from either us or one of our competitors."
The next step for the selected company would obtaining approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which will conduct its own analysis on the impact the project could potentially have on the environment as well as the economy.
The FERC would also gather input from communities and organizations, both for and against. Environmentalist have already voiced concerns regarding the impact the pipeline would have on the land and wildlife, especially since the pipeline could potentially run through several national forests.
Orndorff said Dominion is also seeking input from these groups, reaching out to them.
"In some cases, the reach has been a good reach," he said. "In other cases, they don't want to hear from us, they just want to oppose the project. Regardless, we've held some meetings with the Trout Unlimited folks, we've held some meetings with the Nature Conservancy and we'll continue to do that and identify groups that come out not in support of the project."
If the project is awarded to Dominion and approved by the FERC, construction is estimated to being in 2017-2018 and be completed in late 2018.