Dominion representative values community input

The long wave of concern that rolled across Highland and several other Virginia counties moved into Bath with a change of course of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Aaron Ruby, with media relations for Dominion Transmission spoke to Allegheny Mountain Radio. “That route is now the proposed route that we are asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve, and that’s the federal agency that oversees permitting of interstate natural gas pipelines. So we selected this route at the request of the forest service to avoid certain areas of the National Forests in West Virginia and Virginia. And in Virginia the Forest Service asked us to avoid Shenandoah Mountain in the George Washington National Forest.”

The cow knob salamander here, and the Northern flying squirrel in West Virginia are the two species, which the Forest Service is protecting.

Aaron Ruby assures the public Dominion transmission is still interested in consulting with landowners and the community to make sure everyone will work together in “good faith”.

“You know we really do value the feedback and input of the landowners, and all the residents in the community and we always work with landowners to minimize the impact on their property. You know we want to be part of this community, and we want to be good neighbors in the community and so it’s important for us to hear input from the community.”

There will be community meetings beginning in the first part of March. Please note the meeting on Thursday, February 25th at 7:30 in the Hot Springs Fire House does not involve representatives of Dominion Transmission. Speakers there are providing information based on extensive experience with pipeline monitoring, and assisting and educating landowners.

“A term that gets thrown around a lot is ‘eminent domain’. What exactly is the legal policy that makes it possible for a corporation to use a citizen’s private land for their infrastructure?” Again Aaron Ruby,

“Right, so I understand that when we talk about major infrastructure like pipelines or highways or transmission lines, we hear a lot about eminent domain, but I think sometimes there is a misunderstanding of the role that it plays in the process. It’s an absolute last resort. It’s only used in a very small number of cases. In an overwhelming number of cases pipeline companies negotiate mutual agreements with landowners that compensate them fairly for the use of their property. We always negotiate in good faith with every landowner so we can come to an agreement that everybody’s comfortable with that compensates the landowner fairly for the use of the land. Now in a very small number of cases when the company can’t reach an agreement with the landowner for the easement, the landowner has the right to ask a judge to decide how much they should be compensated, and what that easement agreement ought to say. But as I say, eminent domain is an absolute last resort; it’s only used in a very small number of cases. Our goal is always to negotiate a fair and mutual agreement with every land owner, and most of the time we are able to do that.”

At the time of producing this story I had not found a figure yet used by Dominion to determine ‘adequate compensation’. If there are listeners in Highland or western Augusta County who would like to share offers that have been made to them, or sums they feel would be “adequate compensation” for their land please feel free to email, Future radio segments will touch on which parties are responsible for right of way maintenance, and what some of the next steps are in this process for both Dominion, and landowners who will be affected by this change in route.


Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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