Virginia Natural Gas is seeking state approval to construct 9.5 miles of new pipeline in Prince William and Fauquier counties to connect the Virginia Natural Gas pipeline system to the existing Transco pipeline system.
The new pipelines are needed to deliver natural gas to a new privately financed gas plant known as “C4GT” planned for Charles City County, outside Williamsburg. If built, C4GT would be one of the state’s largest natural gas plants, likely capable of powering several hundred thousand homes, according to a report in the Virginia Mercury.
The project will allow VNG to access natural gas from the Transco pipeline and deliver it to customers in their service territory, according to the application, which was filed Dec. 6.
The company also wants to build a new compressor station and has selected two potential 25-acre sites near the intersection of the Transco pipeline and the new VNG line. Both sites are located on Nokesville Road.
“We are exploring multiple locations along an existing utility corridor, but the exact site of the Transco Interconnect Compressor Station in Prince William County is still being determined,” said Sarah Huddle, a spokesperson for VNG.
Both sites are zoned for agricultural use. Under Prince William County’s zoning ordinance, under Section 32.201.11, compressor stations may be located within any zoning district.
Pipelines to cross streams and wetlands
The application comes months after the Transco received federal approval for a 7.7-mile pipeline expansion in Prince William and Fauquier counties.
The construction of that pipeline sparked opposition from members of the Fauquier Board of County Supervisors and at least one incoming member of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. They asked the state Department of Environmental Quality for a more thorough review before the project proceeds.
Construction on that project, a 42-inch pipeline that will cross 20 creeks and streams, includes upgrades to existing compressor stations in Manassas, Scottsville and Chatham. Construction is expected to get under way in January.
The DEQ extended a related public comment period on the project in response to local officials’ concerns, but it’s unclear whether it will alter the review process.
A recent state law requires that natural gas pipelines greater than 36 inches in diameter receive a state water protection permit and additional water quality certifications, including an individual review of each proposed water-body crossing.
The Transco gas pipeline did not have to comply with the law because its application was submitted about four months before the law took effect on July 1, 2018.
The new pipeline project proposed by VNG involves smaller pipes, which are 30 inches in diameter and thus will not have to comply with the law. The application seeks approval for 6.2 miles of 30-inch-diameter steel pipeline extending north from VNG’s existing natural gas transmission system located near Quantico. It would run through Fauquier and Prince William counties and connect with the Transco pipeline via an interconnect station located near Catlett.
The company is als o seeking to construct another 3.3 miles of 30-inch diameter steel pipeline running parallel to the company’s existing pipeline in Fauquier County.
The new pipelines will cross four streams – Cedar Creek, Cedar Run, Slate Run and Town Run – as well as more than a dozen unnamed streams in the area. The two pipelines will be located within a 100-foot radius of 37 acres of wetlands in Prince William and Fauquier, according to the company’s application.
The total estimated cost of the project is $346 million. The Transco Interconnect pipeline will cost an estimated $55.3 million; the Transco Interconnect compressor station will cost an estimated $65 million; and the Quantico Parallel pipe will cost an estimated $24.9 million.
Virginia Natural Gas has requested a final order from the State Corporation Commission by June 2020 and a desired in-service date for the project of Dec. 31, 2022. According to Huddle, the SCC will issue an order setting a schedule for the upcoming approval process.
“Construction of the project is pursuant to approval by the SCC, and we are committed to working with them through the review process,” Huddle said.
According to the company’s website, the project will give VNG “the operational capacity to ensure Virginia’s energy providers have the clean and reliable natural gas needed to serve Virginia residents and businesses.”
VNG is based in Virginia Beach and serves 300,000 customers in the Southeastern region of the state.
Some lawmakers object
Del. Lee Carter, D-50th, has stated his opposition to both the Transco pipeline expansion and the new VNG project. Carter represents parts the City of Manassas and Western Prince William County.
“Any new fossil fuel construction only serves to worsen the climate crisis we’re in and shortens the already preciously short timeframe we have left for meaningful action,” Carter said. “The science is abundantly clear: We need to get to zero carbon emissions sooner rather than later.”
Carter, along with five Northern Virginia delegates and two Southwestern Virginia delegates, sent a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam on Oct. 9 urging him to publicly oppose the construction of the Transco pipeline and the Mountain Valley pipeline, which is slated for construction in the Southwestern region of the state.
“Supporting these projects and further expanding fossil fuel infrastructure goes against our pledge as elected officials to protect Virginia communities and the future of our climate,” the letter said. “We urge you to direct your state agencies to reject the permits for these projects and any new or expanding fossil fuel infrastructure projects.”
The letter was signed by Dels. Elizabeth Guzman, D-31st; Mark Keam, D-35th; Patrick Hope, D-47th; Ibraheem Samirah, D-86th; Kaye Kory, D-38th; Chris Hurst, D-12th; and Sam Rasoul, D-11th.
Gov. Ralph Northam did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
Reach Daniel Berti at email@example.com