Controversal Proposed Pipeline May Open the Door for a Natural Gas Company to Provide Fuel in the County
By CHARLES BOOTHE
Cable 12 Media Partner
The proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline may open the door for a local natural gas company to provide the fuel in Franklin County.
John S. D’Orazio, president and CEO of Roanoke Gas, told the board of supervisors Tuesday afternoon that his company has been “very interested” for “two or three decades” in providing the county and the Town of Rocky Mount with natural gas.
But the company’s closest facility is in Clearbrook, and the infrastructure required to run gas into the county and town would be too costly, he said.
The estimated cost to continue that line into the county and the town is between $17 million and $20 million, according to assistant Rocky Mount Town Manager Matt Hankins.
With the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline – a 300-mile line from West Virginia to Chatham that would cut through Franklin County – tapping into the line and bringing natural gas to the county and town is “much more economically attractive,” D’Orazio said.
Natural gas is a low-cost fuel that is attractive to new business and industry as well as existing businesses that may want to save money on fuel costs, he said.
There is an “abundant supply” of the gas and the cost to construct a transfer station at a Franklin County site would be about $1.5 million, D’Orazio added.
Although the pipeline is a transmission line, Chris Whitlow, assistant county administrator, said the county now has an agreement “in writing” with the company that would operate the line, EQT Corp., that it will be an open transmission line, providing local taps.
“MVP has committed to provide taps,” Whitlow said.
The pipeline has been a source of controversy since it was first announced last year. Local residents have protested the line, citing the intrusion on private property, damage to the landscape, possible danger and other issues, and the opposition continued at Tuesday’s’ meeting.
County resident Jim Atkins, who addressed the board at the start of the meeting, said it is not too late to stop the line.
Atkins chastised the board for not taking a position on the pipeline, as other affected counties in the region have passed resolutions against it.
“Can you as a board continue to do nothing?” he asked. “The time to fight the pipeline is now.”
But later in the meeting, Gills Creek Supervisor Bob Camicia addressed the issue of those resolutions.
“Roanoke County and Montgomery County (both passed resolutions opposing the line) already have natural gas,” he said. “The economic benefits (of having access to natural gas) could be significant.”
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