Industries Energy/Green

Atlantic Coast Pipeline says it has identified alternative routes

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The Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC said Monday that it has identified several alternative route segments as potentially having the least impact to environmental, historic and cultural resources. These segments are being incorporated into the proposed route for an approximately 550-mile interstate natural gas transmission pipeline across three states.

"ACP has been listening to landowners, federal and state agencies and surveying to find the route with the least impact. While we have not surveyed them yet, we have determined there are several alternate segments that may have less of an impact than the initially proposed route," Leslie Hartz, vice president-pipeline construction for Dominion Transmission Inc., said in a statement. "Surveying is necessary to determine the final route."

The ACP, a corporation formed by Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources to operate the pipeline, wants to build the $4.5 billion to $5 billion project to meet energy needs in Virginia and North Carolina. According to the consortium, the natural gas transported by the project would be used to generate electricity as well as to heat homes and run local businesses.
By providing access to low-cost natural gas supplies from a diverse set of producing regions, the ACP says the controversial pipeline will increase the reliability and security of natural gas supplies in Virginia and North Carolina.

Detailed information about the identified alternative segments will be presented in the drafts of 12 resource reports that will be filed this month with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). A final proposed route will be included in the formal FERC application later this summer.

The alternative segments are located in two Virginia counties, Augusta and Nelson, where opposition has been fierce. In this part of the state, landowners have raised questions of environmental safety and property owner rights and values.

Atlantic said in its press release that landowners would know the alternative segments as the Augusta Industrial Park variation, the Appalachian Trail South alternative, the East of Lovingston Connector alternative and the East of Lovingston alternative.

Atlantic has begun contacting Virginia landowners of the identified alternative segments and other remaining segments that have not given permission to survey their properties, asking again for permission so the company can find a route with the least impact.

Atlantic said it is following a Virginia law that requires an initial letter be sent to landowners requesting permission to survey. If permission is not granted in response to this request, companies then are required to send a notice of intent to enter the property prior to performing the surveys.

Atlantic says it is doing more than is required by Virginia law to ensure that landowners have ample opportunity to be heard. If permission is denied again, rather than send crews to survey, the company will initiate legal action and ask the courts to affirm the Virginia law. Overall, landowners of about 83 percent of the entire route have given the company permission to survey.
"No one knows their property better," said Hartz. "It is in their best interest for them to allow us to survey and talk with them about the land's unique characteristics. We have looked at more than 3,000 miles of potential routes and have adjusted the route hundreds of times as a result of surveys and discussions with landowners.  Surveying the few parcels that remain will give us the best information to assess impact."

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