With a federal court decision in hand, Dominion is a step closer to building a compressor station in Frederick County, Md., that will allow additional supplies of natural gas to flow to customers in Maryland. Dominion expects to begin construction of the compressor station in Myersville, Md., in 2014 pending approval of an air permit from the Maryland Department of the Environment.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, on Dec. 20, 2012, issued a certificate of public convenience and necessity authorizing Dominion to construct and operate the Allegheny Storage Project.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued the Environmental Assessment on the Allegheny Storage Project on June 15, 2012.
Dominion Transmission, Inc., or DTI, filed for approval for the project with the FERC in February 2012. The FERC Docket No. is CP12-72 and the filing may be viewed on the FERC web site.
DTI proposes the Allegheny Storage Project to provide natural gas storage and transportation services in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The project will provide 125,000 dekatherms per day of storage service and 125,000 dekatherms per day of transportation service. The cost is estimated to be about $115 million.
DTI plans to construct, install, own, operate and maintain certain facilities located in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia (view a map):
DTI is committed to working with landowners and other stakeholders to understand and address interests and concerns about the project. The company has developed a Stakeholder Involvement & Public Outreach Plan. The company’s goal is to develop a project that provides benefits to natural gas customers and the community. We will work with all governing bodies and the local community to ensure they are aware of our project and updated as it progresses. It is our policy to work via the agencies responsible to ensure that our facility is developed and operated to meet or exceed all safety, environmental, regulatory and legal requirements.
DTI has obtained a purchase agreement or is in negotiations with landowners for a purchase agreement for the compressor station sites. Land agents representing DTI will personally contact all property owners along the preferred pipeline route. Landowners along any alternate route will also be contacted as needed.
The land agents will gather important property information from the owners and will request permission for DTI to enter the property to conduct the necessary surveys and studies required for the new project.
Every representative of DTI will carry picture identification, including a toll-free number by which you can verify that person’s authority.
DTI takes pride in our long-standing commitment of working with landowners and seeking input from them. Throughout the process and following completion, we remain dedicated to working with communities on their needs and interests. We are confident that you will see this commitment to property owners reflected in every contact you have with all company and contract personnel.
Landowners affected by a proposed natural gas pipeline or storage project regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) have certain rights and DTI works whenever possible to facilitate this process. These rights range from being able to look at project correspondence to becoming an intervener and being able to appeal any FERC decisions in federal court.
These rights include:
To learn more, see "Citizens' Guides" on FERC’s web site at www.ferc.gov or call 1-866-208-3372.
DTI pipelines and storage system will play an increasingly critical role in meeting the energy needs of the United States’ economy in coming years. Natural gas is the energy of choice for many Americans, and demand is expected to grow by at least 20 percent over the next decade. The Allegheny Storage Project will help provide greater reliability as it augments current energy supply sources.
The process for the project will generally be as follows:
Safety is a core value at Dominion and our top priority each and every day. Safeguarding efforts are applied as the pipeline is constructed and continues when the pipe is installed. Markers alert the public to the presence of a pipeline, identify pipeline rights-of-way and provide an emergency phone number.
The safety of our pipeline system is and always has received high priority, and we at DTI can boast of a good safety record as a result. Of course, DTI’s goal is to either comply with or to exceed all the appropriate safety regulations and standards for the industry. Take a closer look at gas pipeline safety.
Compressor stations are equipped with an Emergency Shutdown System which stop engines, isolates and vent compressor piping. The central control system is monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The control systems monitor gas as it travels through all sections of pipeline. In addition, compressor stations are subject to standards and regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), FERC, Office of Pipeline Safety, National Transportation Safety Board, United States Coast Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency and state jurisdictional agencies.
Natural gas is a clean-burning fuel, preferred for use in homes, factories and commercial buildings. It has become a fuel of choice for electric power generation because it burns cleanly and efficiently.
DTI works with federal, state and local agencies to design its projects to assure that the impact on the natural and human environment is minimized.
Among the federal programs or regulations that will be reviewed for any project impact and any related compliance are: Endangered Species Act of 1973, National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, Clean Water Act (including the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program), Clean Air Act, Archaeological and Historic Act of 1974, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, National Wilderness Act, National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978 and Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
The project also will be reviewed for potential impacts under state and local regulatory programs for environmental issues related to streams, wetlands, threatened and endangered species, air, etc., including programs that implement the federal programs listed above.
As with all of our projects, DTI will work with the appropriate regulatory agencies and landowners throughout the construction process.
Prior to construction, DTI, must obtain numerous local, state and federal permits and clearances. The permits address all of our natural resources - land, air, water, vegetation and wildlife, as well as the interests of the general public. Requirements for the Allegheny Storage Project will include:
Copies of all permits and permit applications are submitted to the FERC prior to beginning construction, if required.
To get approval for constructing the Allegheny Storage Project, the applicant must file a detailed project plan with the FERC. Among other things, this plan will include maps showing the preliminary pipeline route and preferred compressor station site(s), a description of the proposed facilities and up to 13 specific environmental resource reports. These resource reports cover topics such as water use and quality, vegetation and wildlife, cultural resources, socio-economics, geological resources, soils, land use, air and noise quality and project alternatives.
The FERC has the authority to approve the pipeline and station location and construction. It does so by issuing a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (Certificate). Before the Commission will authorize construction, however, it will conduct a thorough review to determine if the project is in the public interest. This review includes an evaluation of need for the project, costs of transporting natural gas by the pipeline, financing and market competition. The Commission also conducts an Environmental Assessment or an Environmental Impact Study to evaluate the project’s anticipated impact on the public and the environment. Part of the Commission’s review process includes public meetings, called open houses, in some of the communities to be affected by the project. Announcements of these open houses are published in local newspapers. The meetings also provide a forum for the local community to ask questions and express any comments or concerns about the project.
The time required for the review process is expected to be about 8-10 months after we file the Allegheny Storage Project application. If a Certificate is issued, the Commission will authorize construction to begin when the conditions they established in their order issuing the Certificate are satisfied.
Dominion filed a request for a Certificate on Feb. 17, 2012.
DTI voluntarily used the Pre-filing Process for the Allegheny Storage Project because it enabled DTI to involve interested stakeholders, agencies and the Commission early in the process. This early involvement facilitates the application process and helps to ensure the timely review and approval of the Certificate application.
As part of the Commission’s regulations, DTI is required to provide some helpful information to each landowner who may be affected by the construction of natural gas facilities. DTI will give each affected landowner an individual packet of information that describes:
The project name and docket number are important to know if you want to contact either DTI or the Commission with questions or access information concerning this project. The name of this project is the Allegheny Storage Project. The Commission assigned a docket number of CP12-72.
Dominion is one of the nation’s largest producers of energy. Click here to learn more about Dominion.
DTI’s representatives will contact affected landowners to discuss this project and its timing and to secure the rights to conduct the surveys and environmental studies necessary for DTI’s application to FERC. DTI also will negotiate for the acquisition of the easements for the pipeline right-of-way, access roads, gate settings, measuring and regulating stations, as well as purchase the property for compressor station sites.
A complete copy DTI’s Certificate application will be available to be viewed in each county affected by the Allegheny Storage Project, once it is filed in 2012. Additionally, the Commission has developed a pamphlet concerning its Certificate process that can be viewed online. This pamphlet, "An Interstate Natural Gas Facility on My Land - What Do I Need To Know," addresses some of the basic concerns of landowners.
The Commission requires DTI to briefly explain to landowners the eminent domain process. Please be assured that DTI will make every reasonable effort to avoid the use of eminent domain for this project and will attempt to secure all the property rights that it needs through binding, mutual agreements with landowners. Generally, DTI seeks a type of property ownership called an easement.
The landowner still owns the property when DTI secures, by negotiated payment, an easement upon that property, but the landowner cannot undertake any activity within the easement that would conflict with DTI’s rights to utilize its easement rights. Activities that do not impact DTI are allowed. The easement is a written document similar to a deed or lease. It is typically recorded at the county courthouse.
When DTI builds a permanent structure such as a compressor station, it seeks to secure the necessary property rights by deed, rather than by easement, so that DTI has full and complete ownership.
On those rare occasions where DTI cannot secure the property rights it needs by reaching an agreement with the affected landowner, a federal law called The Natural Gas Act allows DTI to secure the property by eminent domain. Efforts to obtain property through eminent domain begin with DTI filing a complaint or petition with the appropriate court, which can be either a state court or a federal district court. Usually a bond or other type of financial security is deposited with the court, to ensure that the landowner will be paid for any property rights that are taken when the matter is finally decided.
After various preliminary matters, a hearing is held before a judge, jury, board of viewers or commission. The purpose of the hearing is to award the landowner just compensation for any property that is utilized for the project. Both the United States Constitution and state constitutions require the payment of just compensation to property owners who must give up some of their property for a public use, such as natural gas pipelines or other similar facilities.
After the award of just compensation, either DTI or the affected landowner (or both) may ask an appellate court to review the award, to make sure the award complied with the appropriate body of law. Eventually the landowner receives the payment awarded by the court. In some states under some circumstances, landowners may also receive interest. Some states also allow reimbursement of certain costs incurred by the landowner, such as appraisal fees.
The eminent domain system has worked well for hundreds of years, allowing the construction of projects that fulfill a public need, including gas, electric and water service, highways and airports. DTI will make every reasonable effort to reach a voluntary agreement with each affected landowner, rather than use eminent domain. Your attorney can advise you about easements and other property interests, can assist you in negotiations and can represent you if eminent domain becomes necessary.
Answers to some questions raised by Myersville residents during the scoping meeting held on November 7, 2011, are available via the link below. All comments and questions filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will officially be responded to by Dominion by December 7, 2011. That document will be available for public review on FERC's website.
Q. What safety precautions will you take during construction?
A. Danger to the general public associated with natural gas pipeline construction is minimal. No unauthorized personnel will be allowed into the construction area. However, landowners who want to monitor the construction on their property will be allowed access with the appropriate escort and safety equipment.
Q. What welding safety guidelines will be followed, i.e. frequency of inspection, type of inspection, etc.?
A. Every weld on the pipeline will be non-destructively tested according to API-1104. The currently accepted method is to use x-ray, but this method could be replaced in the future by other non-destructive procedures that would meet DOT code.
Q. How does your leak detection system work?
A. The natural gas pipeline system is monitored 24 hours a day by DTI's Gas Control Department personnel. They use computer-assisted control centers that can detect and assess changes in pressures and flows. The company’s operational emphasis on safety includes compliance with the Code of Federal Regulations, 49 CFR Part 192, and involves regular patrols of the facilities by experienced observers in low-flying aircraft and routine ground patrols. After construction, an internal inspection tool, known as a smart pig, will be run on a routine basis, probably every seven to 10 years.
Q. Describe your disaster response plan.
A. When DTI receives a report of a gas emergency involving its facilities, personnel are required to undertake the following steps:
When DTI personnel arrive at the scene of the problem, responding emergency units are asked to:
Guidelines For Responding Emergency Units
In any emergency, accurate communication and quick cooperation between DTI and fire or police units is essential. When DTI initially communicates with any emergency response units, DTI will indicate the facilities involved, the design and operating parameters, the nature of the product involved and the details of the response to the situation. Normally DTI will dispatch personnel to the area immediately. DTI will also establish and maintain mobile communications with the site until the emergency has been resolved.
Usually any emergency or potential emergency will be detected and reported immediately through DTI's ongoing monitoring of its facilities. However, there may be situations when emergency units may report emergencies where DTI’s facilities are directly or indirectly involved.
If you are reporting such an emergency to DTI, please provide all the data you can. Information about the facility, the nature of the product, the location and the observed condition of DTI’s facilities is needed. Your information will be used to determine our initial response to the situation.
Generally the most effective way to respond to an emergency involving DTI facilities is to shut off the flow of the gas. Please remember that shutting off the flow is the responsibility of DTI. Non-company personnel should never attempt to use valves and controls. DTI's personnel know the piping systems involved and will make sure that correct actions are taken.
Q. What types of safety problems will be communicated to the county and to whom?
A. Federal code requires notifications to DOT’s Office of Pipeline Safety for incidents and safety-related conditions. Required local contacts would be made by the Company's Operations Department.
Q. How will you notify landowners, fire crews and county officials of problems?
A. Implementation of DTI's Emergency Plan will include a call to the local 911 center (or first-responder fire department if there is no 911 service) and/or law enforcement notifying them of the situation and requesting assistance, if necessary. Company employees on the scene or local emergency personnel will notify nearby residents, who will be evacuated if the situation warrants. Nonresident landowners will be notified by phone or mail depending on the situation and the availability of the landowner. County officials, such as the emergency response coordinator, will be notified by company employees, either immediately or as soon as possible. The first priority of the company is to protect human life.
Q. How do you train local fire departments and what type of material/funding will you provide?
A. Initially, local fire departments will be invited to the closest compressor station site for a tour. This will include a description of the properties of natural gas and the equipment used. In addition to a tour, DTI will conduct a fire school, which allows the fire departments to experience a natural gas fire. No special materials are provided. Funding, in addition to tax dollars to the county, usually consists of an annual donation to the first-responder fire departments. After the initial training, all emergency personnel will be invited to an informational program every three years. Tours of facilities by emergency response groups are always available. Please call to make arrangements in advance.
Q. Are air emissions from the compressor stations a concern?
A. Air emission controls will be incorporated into the facility designs as directed by the environmental agencies. The compressor units operate on natural gas fuel and use a low-emission combustion process.
Q. How noisy is a new compressor station?
A. In accordance with FERC regulations, the design requirement for compressor stations is an average day-night sound level of 55 decibels as perceived at the nearest public noise receptor. Normal conversation is about 60-65 decibels. DTI implements various mitigation measures to meet noise requirements, including the installation of engine exhaust mufflers, gas blow-down silencers, low-noise ancillary equipment, acoustical piping blankets and acoustically insulated compressor buildings.
Q. Do compressor stations use water for operations?
A. Water is not utilized for cooling or compression at the facilities, and there are no operational discharges to surface water, nor is there use of surface water. The only use of water are wells to provide domestic water for employees and limited discharge to septic systems for sanitary waste. A spill prevention control and countermeasures plan would be developed and implemented at each site.
Q. What environmental regulations cover the pipeline construction process?
A. DTI works with federal, state and local agencies to design the pipeline route to assure that the impact on the natural and human environment is minimized. Among the federal programs or regulations that will be reviewed for any project impact and any related compliance are:
The project also will be reviewed for potential impacts under state and local regulatory programs for environmental issues related to streams, wetlands, threatened and endangered species, air, etc., including programs that implement the federal programs listed above.
Q. Where will the water for hydrostatic testing come from?
A. Water for hydrostatic testing will come from streams and rivers along the pipeline route. The actual water bodies to be used will be included in the FERC application. Withdrawal of water will be made in accordance with all state permit requirements.
Q. Where will the hydrostatic test water go when testing is complete?
A. The water will be discharged back into a well-vegetated upland area, subject to landowner approval, in a manner to avoid erosion.
Q. What is the process for hydrostatic testing?
A. Water is withdrawn from the predetermined water source through a screened intake hose, per any applicable state permits. Once the pipe segment to be tested is full of water, the pressure is pumped up to the required test pressure. The test is held for the required time, usually eight hours. After the pressure is relieved, the water is discharged through the erosion control structures required in the permits.
Q. Does the right of eminent domain, once gained, extend to acquiring rights-of-ways and/or easements along those owned or used by other utilities?
A. It is too early in the project process to contemplate eminent domain; however, DTI has a good track record of successful negotiations over the years. If, and when, condemnation becomes a last resort, DTI will evaluate the issues at that time. Generally, public utilities and similar entities that provide vital public services recognize the need to work together to provide these services, so DTI does not expect that condemnation will be necessary in these cases.
Q. After construction, will you access my property from wherever you want, or will access be limited to the right-of-way?
A. Generally, DTI will access the right-of-way from access roads and the right-of-way where easements have been purchased. DTI does not have unlimited right to access to your property.
Q. What if I don't sign the easement?
A. This means that you and DTI have failed to reach an agreement for access to your property. DTI has a good record of successfully negotiating easements - that is, in a very high percentage of cases, DTI finds a way to design an agreement that works for both the company and the landowner. However, if an agreement is not reached, after receiving FERC approval for the project, DTI would have the right to use the court system to gain access through eminent domain powers granted to it by the federal Natural Gas Act.
Q. Can other utilities use this easement in the future?
A. Other utilities would need to negotiate a new easement with each landowner. The easement agreement that DTI will have with each landowner will be for natural gas pipeline facilities only. DTI cannot sublet the agreement to other companies or utilities.
Q. Will I have to pay taxes on the money received for compensation?
A. It is best to consult your tax advisor.
Q. Will I have to keep paying property taxes on the right-of-way?
A. Yes. DTI will not own the land for the pipeline, but will hold only an easement for it. You still will have ownership and use of the right-of-way except that you will not be able to build on it.
Q. When will I be paid for the easement?
A. Negotiations for the easement will include a detailed discussion on payments for the easement. Typically, DTI will obtain an easement option and make a down payment on the full consideration. The balance of the consideration will be paid prior to installation of the pipeline.
Q. Can I plant shrubs or trees on the right-of-way?
A. After construction, normal farming operations can resume. Landscaping can be planted within the right-of-way in yard areas. However, if DTI should need access to the pipeline in these areas for maintenance work, these plants will have to be removed. It is best to discuss your plans with your land agent during easement negotiations.
Q. Can I build a driveway over the pipeline?
A. If you have specific plans to build a driveway over the area of the pipeline right-of-way, you should show these to your land agent during negotiations for the easement. If, some time after construction, you have plans for a driveway installation, you must obtain prior approvals from DTI.
Q. How long will construction take?
A. Construction of the project facilities is expected to take about 18 months. Generally, pipelines are constructed in a sequential process that includes the following steps:
Work will not occur on all properties each day and there may be significant lapses between certain activities. The construction schedule for each property will vary depending on the size of the property, the amount of pipeline/easement on the property, topography, weather and other conditions.
Q. How deep will the pipe be buried?
A. The pipeline will have a minimum of three feet of cover.
Q. What kind of steel is the pipe made of?
A. The steel used to manufacture pipe for the pipelines will meet or exceed API - 5L specifications.
Q. Will you have the right to use my access road after construction?
A. Easements for all access roads utilized for this project will be purchased as permanent access roads and may be used from time to time by DTI to check the pipeline and perform routine maintenance operations and safety checks.
Q. How will the line be inspected once it's built?
A. The pipelines will be inspected and tested regularly to identify potential problems. During pipeline construction, all pipe welds are x-rayed to verify that the welds meet the requirements of API-1104.
Then, before the pipe is actually placed in initial operation, it undergoes hydrostatic testing. The pipeline is divided into different length sections. The sections are filled with water and pressurized to levels well above normal operating pressure, as required by DOT code. Any pipe sections with weaknesses are replaced or repaired before the pipe is put into service. After construction, there is no routine hydrostatic testing of the pipeline.
Pipelines in operation are visually inspected by personnel flying and walking the pipeline right-of-way. This visual inspection looks for any natural or manmade conditions that could impact the pipe or affect its safe operation. Factors such as excavation, construction work, soil erosion or landslides could pose problems for a pipeline.
The effectiveness of the system-wide cathodic protection process is tested routinely with pipe-to-soil inspections. Pipelines also are regularly surveyed using sensitive devices called sniffers to check for leaks. Sniffers are sophisticated electronic devices that can detect even minute levels of natural gas in the air. Any leak detected is located and repaired immediately.
Even though pipelines operate underground and out of sight, they can be inspected internally using modern technology. DTI uses this smart pigging technology to measure and analyze conditions along the pipeline's inner and outer walls. The pig device travels through the pipelines and electronically reads and records the slightest change in pipe wall thickness. These changes can pinpoint potential problems before they become problems.
DTI will monitor and provide timely responses to calls to the toll-free numbers. The number, 1-866-319-3382, rings into DTI’s Public Outreach Representative. This number was established to enable DTI to promptly address questions regarding projects and is especially valuable for affected landowners to call with questions. As necessary, calls will be routed to the appropriate DTI personnel for responses.
You also can email Amanda.K.Prestage@dom.com.