Pittsylvania County residents can learn more about the proposed Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline at a community open house Monday, Dec. 15, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Hampton Inn on McBride Lane in Gretna.
The public will have an opportunity to ask questions and talk with project team members about the 300-mile pipeline.
EQT Corp. and NextEra Energy announced plans for the pipeline earlier this year and are seeking approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The pipeline would run from Wetzel County, W. Va., through southwest Virginia to Pittsylvania County and connect with Williams’ Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Company’s compressor station in Chatham.
Estimated to cost $3 billion to $3.5 billion, the pipeline would pass through Giles, Montgomery, Roanoke, Franklin, and Pittsylvania counties.
Community meetings also are scheduled Dec. 16 at the Harvester Performance Center in Rocky Mount, Dec. 17 at Salem Civic Center, and Dec. 18 in Blacksburg.
Additional open houses will be scheduled in January 2015, the companies said.
Natalie Cox, a spokesman with EQT in Pittsburgh, Pa., said the project includes 15 to 20 miles of pipeline in the county and will affect about 120 landowners.
She said company representatives are looking forward to starting a dialogue with property owners.
“We work very hard to develop a relationship with landowners,” Cox said. “We’re here to answer their questions. We encourage a two-way dialogue.”
Cox said Mountain Valley is seeking permission to walk properties and stake the proposed pipeline route. A final route is expected next spring.
Coates Field Services in Beckley, W.Va., is doing the fieldwork. Cox said representatives carry Mountain Valley Pipeline identification.
Cox said the pipeline will use as many existing utility transmission corridors as possible and try to avoid environmentally sensitive areas.
FERC review and approval takes 10 to 12 months.
Construction of the 36-inch to 42-inch diameter steel pipeline is scheduled to begin in late 2016 and will take two years.
The pipeline, which will buried at least three feet underground, will require approximately 75 feet of permanent easement and 125 feet of total easement for temporary work space.
Property owners are entitled to fair compensation for having the pipeline on their land, and the companies said eminent domain — a legal taking of land — is a last resort.
Company officials said the pipeline will be equipped with remote-controlled shut-off valves and will be monitored 24 hours a day through EQT’s gas control center.
Scheduled to go into service in late 2018, the pipeline will deliver 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Marcellus and Utica natural gas supplies to markets in the southeastern United States.
Chris Sherman, a representative of EQT and NextEra, outlined the pipeline project at a Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors meeting in October.
Supervisors had plenty of questions.
Westover District Supervisor Coy Harville wanted to know how many local jobs the pipeline will bring.
“I don’t hear anything where you will create jobs in Pittsylvania County,” the supervisor said.
Sherman said the pipeline is expected to create 3,000 jobs in Virginia, mostly during construction, and the companies try to use local labor when available.
Harville asked for proof.
Staunton River District Supervisor Elton Blackstock wondered whether the pipeline would supply natural gas for economic development in the county.
He suggested running the pipeline down Route 40 from Rocky Mount to Gretna and along U.S. 29 to Chatham.
Transco’s natural gas pipeline, built in the late 1940s, cuts through the heart of the county, but provides no local natural gas distribution.
“I think its paramount we don’t make the mistakes we made in the past,” Blackstock said. “With the amount of natural gas coming in this county, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have access. We need to hold their feet to the fire and get on top of this.”
Sherman said local access points are possible along the pipeline, especially if installed during construction.
Once the high-pressure pipeline is in operation it becomes more difficult and expensive to tap into the line, he said.
For more information, visit mountainvalleypipeline.info or call 844-MVP-Talk.