Station is on agenda

Published 3:23 pm Thursday, August 18, 2016

A special use permit for a proposed 53,515-horse power natural gas-fired compressor station will be introduced to the Buckingham County Planning Commission on Monday.

During the 7 p.m. meeting, to be held in the Peter Francisco Auditorium at the County Administration Complex, commissioners will review the permit application and could set a public hearing for the following month, according to County Zoning and Planning Administrator Rebecca S. Cobb.

The proposed compressor station is part of the Dominion-led Atlantic Coast Pipeline project — one that includes 600 miles of a new natural gas pipeline spanning from West Virginia to North Carolina. Part of the route spans portions of Prince Edward and Cumberland and a large portion of Buckingham.

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According to Dominion Spokesperson Aaron Ruby, a special use permit was filed earlier this summer. The facility would be constructed between Union Hill and Shelton Store Roads in Buckingham County near Route 56.

The county planning commission and board of supervisors holds separate public hearings for special use permits. The planning commission offers recommendations to supervisors.

“The proposed compressor station will be sited on a … 68.43-acre Dominion-purchased property along Route 56 in Buckingham County,” the permit narrative states. “The proposed location of the compressor station was partially dictated by technical considerations of the ACP project.”

Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC purchased the land last August from Variety Shade Landowners of Virginia Inc. for $2.5 million.

In tandem, Dominion and its partners, which comprise Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, are seeking approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the project.

On FERC issued a Notice of Schedule, establishing a timeline for the environmental review of the project.

“Based on the timeline established today, we remain on track to receive federal approval to begin construction in late summer 2017,”  Ruby said.

Ruby termed the FERC notice as “a major step forward for the project and provides a clear road map for the remainder of the federal environmental review process.”

“I’m told we are still finalizing the microwave tower application,” he said of the permit. “We need to conduct a balloon test before we can complete the application. County planning staff is aware and will include this update in its introduction to the planning commission on (Monday).”

Chad Oba, chair of Friends of Buckingham, said the group — which is opposed to the project — has “deep and real concerns” about the impact the station will have on people in an evacuation route.

“We also feel that there will be regional fallout from the emissions that has never been considered. The revenue promised by Dominion to Buckingham County has never been substantiated, but only projected by Dominion,” Oba said.

She said it was the group’s hope “the Buckingham County Planning Commission and the board of supervisors will scrutinize closely this permit before putting their stamp of approval on it. They must be prepared to ask and receive all the information required before putting the health and welfare of its citizens at risk for an economic return that will doubtfully be returned to them.”

Ruby said the federally required environmental review of the project “has and will continue to be a thorough and exhaustive process. It has allowed us to work constructively with all agencies and communities to address the issues that have been raised. As we move forward into the next important phase, we will continue working with agencies and communities to ensure a robust and comprehensive review.”

FERC said a notice of availability and the final environmental impact study would avaliable June 30, 2017. A 90-day federal authorization decision deadline is set for Sept. 28, 2017.

“We feel that this is an unrealistic deadline and demonstrates a lack of interest to properly solicit much-needed information from all the agencies involved in this process,” Oba said. “Citizens’ comments on resource reports are not being provided for commenting and, in general, the public process is deeply flawed. There will be a lawsuit by Friends of Buckingham and all its partners if this timeline as projected goes forward.”