Jim Norvelle of Dominion Resources Speaks with AMR

Dominion Resources Open House in Monterey provided an opportunity to meet with company representatives to discuss the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. Allegheny Mountain Radio spoke with Jim Norvelle, Director of Energy Communications for the company. Mr. Norvelle began by explaining the idea behind the open houses, and the surveying operations currently underway.

“Dominion has proposed building a 550 mile interstate natural gas pipeline – part of the route takes us through Highland County, so we are here tonight to listen to landowners, and other members of the public about their questions they may have about the project.”

“There’s some information sharing that we need to have happen among the landowners and our specialists so we can make sure that we choose the best route, with the least impact to the environment, historic, and cultural resources.

“We have our survey teams in the field today, all along the route. We are looking at a 400 foot wide proposed study corridor. We have not completed that yet – we don’t expect to complete surveying until the end of the year. About 70-71 percent of the landowners have given us permission to come on property for survey.”

He continued, “Eventually, we will have to get on the property – but if a landowner doesn’t not want us on their property, we respect that. We will not come on their property at that time. At a point, though, we will need to get on their property, so we would got to a state court, to let the court enforce the state law that gives us the right to come on the property, but so far we have really not seen that necessary along most of the route.”

Next steps include a pre-filing notification to the Federal government.

“This fall sometime, we will notify the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that we are going to be bringing to you an application to build this pipeline.The actual application will be given to FERC this summer. We anticipate the FERC taking about a year to decide, and if it’s decided in favor of building the pipeline, because it meets a public need, then we would start construction. Construction would last about 2 years, and we would anticipate the pipeline going into service in late 2018.”

Mr. Norvelle was asked when conversations would begin with landowners for property compensation.

“At some locations along the route, we are going to start those negotiations in October. It’s done on a piecemeal basis, and because some places, such as counties that are mountainous, such as Highland, it may take us a bit longer to decide what’s the best route – who do we need now to go start having those negotiations with over easements. An easement is a one time payment to the homeowner or landowner. We don’t buy the property, we don’t lease the property, It’s just a payment to the landowner to get us access to the land so we can build it and then maintain the right-of-way.”

Mr. Norvelle was asked to discuss potential energy and economic economic benefits from the project.

“If we are granted the license to build the pipeline, then the pipeline in the ground becomes a taxable asset, and Dominion has to pay Highland County an annual property tax on that pipeline, and I think that would certainly be a benefit to the county.

“I think also, there’s a short term economic impact of pipeline construction. The workers who will be coming here, the workers locally that are looking for jobs, they have to have a place to buy gas, to eat, to stay, and those are all short term impact for over a two year period of time.”

Mr. Norvelle raised the possibility that the gas from the pipeline could serve the area at some point.

“Down the road, is there a benefit that the county could have off this pipeline – that’s something I would hope they think about. There are going to be opportunities to tap the pipeline – in essence, to put a faucet into the pipeline and to be able to take gas from it, if that’s what the county wants to do, for some future economic development entry, or whatever the reason – if they would like to consider that, now’s the time.

Potential impact of property values was addressed.

“If there is a property value impact, we’ve seen it to be short term. For example, there are some places where property values may even increase, depending on what the terrain looks like. Primarily, we have seen that in Northern Virginia. It’s been our experience with other projects that if there is a property value impact, it’s short term in nature, and it recovers.”

“Dominion and its joint venture partners all believe this to be a pipeline that is for the public good. It is a pipeline that will help these companies meet the demand from customers – it will help bring cleaner air, so they can meet environmental regulations to continue to generate electricity at reasonable rates, and it will help spur economic development along the entire pipeline.”

Stay tuned to Allegheny Mountain Radio for more discussion on construction and environmental impact, as well as public opinions.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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