A 550-mile interstate natural gas pipeline extending from West Virginia into North Carolina will have an 8-mile segment at the northern tip of Sampson County, and residents wishing to raise any concerns about the project will have a forum to do so this week.
An event deemed “A People’s Hearing” on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will provide an opportunity for potentially impacted residents to speak out. The forum is set from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 28, at East Regional Library, 4809 Clinton Road, Fayetteville.
“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a project of Duke Energy and Dominion Power, is a large highly pressurized natural gas pipeline that would pass through eight eastern North Carolina counties, potentially impacting hundreds of residents in or near the pipeline corridor,” stated Ericka Faircloth of Clean Water for NC, which is sponsoring the forum.
The number of estimated landowners in Sampson County is 29, she noted.
“Dominion could end up taking land through a process called eminent domain, where the land is condemned and accessed for value afterwards if the landowner resists,” she stated.
The pipeline will begin in Harrison County, W.Va., at an existing natural gas transmission facility, then travel southeast through four other West Virginia counties and 13 Virginia counties before entering North Carolina, according to the initial proposal. In North Carolina, the pipeline will enter the state in Northampton County, travel southwest through six other counties including Sampson, then end in Robeson County at existing Piedmont Natural Gas transmission facilities.
According to Dominion’s website, more than 85 percent of landowners along the pipeline route have granted permission for Atlantic Coast Pipeline crews to survey their properties. ACP has notified landowners along a 300-foot wide study corridor and the team continues work to refine the proposed route.
The pipeline’s main customers are six utilities and related companies that collectively will purchase a substantial majority of the pipeline’s capacity to transport natural gas, including Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Progress and Piedmont Natural Gas.
In a joint statement upon announcing the project, the four companies’ CEOs — Dominion’s Thomas Farrell, Duke Energy’s Lynn Good, Piedmont’s Thomas Skains and AGL Resources’ John Somerhalder — said the pipeline represented a major step forward for the region’s energy security, economic future and carbon reduction.
“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a transformational project for our region. It will create thousands of construction jobs during development and significant new revenue for state and local governments throughout North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. The expanded source of gas will also help fuel economic development across the region as businesses and homes rely more on natural gas.”
In September 2014, Sampson County officials lauded the project as a way to meet growing demand for natural gas and possibly create economic development opportunities. The eight miles of proposed pipeline spanning the northwestern tip of Sampson will affect 73 parcels, Economic developer John Swope stated at the time.
“Southeastern North Carolina is energy-starved, so to bring this project … is a great thing,” Michael Thompson of Dominion told the board then during a series of meetings across the state to announce and tout the project.
The pipeline has an estimated cost of around $5 billion, an initial capacity of 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, and a target in-service date of late 2018. The project will require Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval, which Dominion said two years ago that they wanted to secure by this summer. Atlantic submitted additional environmental and cultural resource data, updated impact tables and additional agency correspondence to the FERC on Monday as part of that process.
While the project’s leaders said the pipeline would keep consumers’ energy costs down, Faircloth asserted that all Duke Energy customers will have their rates raised because of the pipeline.
“The People’s Hearing is an opportunity for local folks to learn more about the pipeline and its potential impacts and speak out about their concerns,” she noted. “Residents in or near the pipeline corridor will be given first priority in making comments.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.