Spectra eyes building pipeline in region
by Johnston, Donnie. McClatchy - Tribune Business News
June 07--At least one company is looking at the possibility of building a $4 billion natural gas pipeline that would come through eastern Rappahannock County, western Culpeper County and parts of Madison, Orange and Louisa counties.
Spectra Energy recently sent letters to affected property owners in Culpeper and has obtained permission from some to do survey work.
According to Bill Barnes, who is obtaining landowner permission in Culpeper, the 280-mile pipeline would originate at an unspecified location about 40 miles north of the Pennsylvania border and end at some undeclared point in northern North Carolina.
Barnes said the pipeline is being proposed because the Obama administration's new clean-energy policy, which restricts the burning of coal, is expected to increase the use of natural gas.
"They just don't have the supply and the infrastructure in place to meet the [expected] demand," Barnes said.
The pipeline would be built through two counties in Maryland, two in West Virginia and all the way through Virginia to North Carolina.
Last week, the Piedmont Environmental Council sent a letter to affected landowners in Culpeper that offered some explanation of what was happening.
The PEC stated that after calls to Spectra, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Virginia Corporation Commission, it believes "that this proposal may be linked to Duke Energy's desire to secure natural gas supplies from the shale fields to the north."
While the PEC letter does not say the group opposes the pipeline, it insists, "Developers and regulators need to approach projects in a way that does not unduly harm the environment or sacrifice safety for rapid construction."
The PEC also cautions that pumping stations and "associated structures" are also part of a pipeline project.
Barnes said Spectra is trying to find a route through the least-populated areas of Culpeper and other affected counties.
He added that surveying is expected to begin within six months, and if a route is obtained, pipeline construction could be underway in less than 18 months.
Barnes also said that at least one other unnamed company is attempting to obtain a route for the same pipeline.