Docket Nos. CP22-503-000 & CP22-502-000
The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) has prepared a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Virginia Reliability Project and Commonwealth Energy Connector Project involving construction and operation of facilities by Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC (Columbia) and Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC (Transco), respectively.
Columbia proposes to replace and expand existing facilities associated with its VM-107 and VM-108 pipelines in southeast Virginia. The Virginia Reliability Project would increase the capability of Columbia’s existing pipeline facilities to provide incremental firm transportation service of 100,000 dekatherms per day (Dth/d), while increasing the reliability of Columbia’s system by replacing 1950s era pipelines. According to Columbia, its project would meet the increasing market demand of residential, commercial, and industrial consumers in southeast Virginia.
The Virginia Reliability Project would consist of the following:
- replacement of 49.2 miles of existing12-inch-diameter VM-107 and VM-108 pipelines with 24-inch-diameter pipeline mostly within Columbia’s existing right-of-way, in Sussex, Surry, Southampton, and Isle of Wight Counties, as well as the cities of Suffolk and Chesapeake;
- installation of one new 5,500-horsepower (HP) dual-drive compressor unit at the existing Emporia Compressor Station in Greensville County;
- a facility upgrade involving additional gas cooling and an increase of 2,700 HP at the existing Petersburg Compressor Station in Prince George County;
- modification of the Emporia Point of Receipt in Greensville County; Regulator Station 7423 in Prince George County; and MS-831010 Point of Delivery in the City of Chesapeake; and
- eight mainline valve replacements, five new pig launcher/receiver installations, and other minor appurtenant facilities.
Transco proposes to expand its existing natural gas transmission system in southeast Virginia to provide 105,000 Dth/d of incremental firm transportation capacity from its Compressor Station 165 in Pittsylvania County to its existing Emporia Metering and Regulation Station, which serves as an interconnect with Columbia’s facilities. According to Transco, the CEC Project would provide firm, year-round access to incremental natural gas supply, increase the overall reliability and diversification of energy supply for Virginia Natural Gas, and add natural gas infrastructure to meet growing demand in the Mid‑Atlantic area.
The Commonwealth Energy Connector Project would consist of the following:
- construction of a 6.35-mile-long, 24-inch-diameter pipeline loop (referred to as the Commonwealth Loop), including valve and launcher/receiver facilities, in Brunswick and Greensville Counties;
- addition of a 33,000-HP electric motor-driven compressor unit at the existing Compressor Station 168 in Mecklenburg County; and
- modification of the existing Emporia Metering and Regulation Station in Greensville County.
The EIS was prepared in compliance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Council on Environmental Quality regulations for implementing NEPA (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR], 1500-1508), and the FERC regulations implementing NEPA (18 CFR 380). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are cooperating agencies that provided FERC environmental staff with assistance preparing the EIS because they have special expertise with respect to environmental resources and impacts associated with the projects. The conclusions and recommendations presented in the EIS are those of the FERC environmental staff.
For most resources, the construction and operation of the projects would result in limited adverse environmental impacts. Most adverse environmental impacts would be temporary or short-term during construction, but some long-term and permanent environmental impacts would occur on some forested lands, including forested wetlands. This determination is based on our review of the information provided by Columbia and Transco and further developed from environmental information requests; scoping; literature research; a consideration of potential alternatives; and contacts with federal, state, and local agencies, and other stakeholders. With the exception of potential impacts on climate change, we conclude that impacts would be reduced to less than significant levels through implementation of Columbia’s and Transco’s proposed avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures as well as our project-specific recommendations.