Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC confirmed Monday that it is considering siting a facility in Roanoke County that would boost the pressure of natural gas flowing through the company’s proposed 42-inch diameter interstate pipeline.
A filing by Mountain Valley with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reports that the company contemplates constructing a compressor station at or about milepost 224 of the 300-mile buried pipeline.
That location would put the above-ground compressor station about 2,000 feet from the Spring Hollow Reservoir, a key source of drinking water for the Roanoke Valley, according to Natalie Cox, a spokeswoman for Mountain Valley Pipeline.
Cox emphasized in an email that the company — a partnership of EQT Corp. and NextEra Energy — is still in the initial design phase for the pipeline’s route.
She said details about potential compressor station sites remain conceptual.
“The precise location, horsepower and design information will be provided in a subsequent resource report, which is a public document filed with the FERC,” Cox said.
Documents related to the proposed pipeline are available at ferc.gov, docket number PF15-3.
In filings on Dec. 1 and Dec. 5, Mountain Valley reported that it had identified three possible sites in West Virginia for compressor stations and one site in Virginia — the so-called Swann Station in Roanoke County.
Spaced along buried transmission pipelines, above-ground compressor stations maintain the pressure and velocity of natural gas moving through pipelines. The pressure boost is necessary because friction and elevation changes in the pipeline slow the flow of gas. In the case of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the compressor station’s site in Roanoke County would precede the pipeline’s ascent of Poor Mountain and crossing of Bent Mountain.
Sarah Baumgardner, a spokeswoman for the Western Virginia Water Authority, said the authority has not yet communicated with Mountain Valley about the potential siting of the compressor station near Spring Hollow Reservoir. She said the authority previously communicated concerns about sediment control during pipeline construction.
Mountain Valley has said the company envisions siting four compressor stations along the route of the 300-mile pipeline. According to recent filings, the stations would be unmanned but monitored and controlled remotely from Pennsylvania.
Compressor stations can be a source of air and noise pollution.
Bill Hayden, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, said a compressor station in the state likely would need a permit from DEQ “to cover air emissions such as volatile organic compounds and nitrous oxides that result from combustion of natural gas to run the compressors.”
Cox said land required for a compressor station typically is less than 10 acres but said the actual land acquired “will vary based on its geographic location.” Pipeline companies often obtain additional acreage to serve as a noise buffer.
Tamara Young-Allen, a spokeswoman for FERC, said that noise from an interstate natural gas compressor station cannot exceed 55 decibels — comparable to a home air conditioner or a quiet office — at the nearest “noise-sensitive area,” which could be a residence, school or similar property.
As proposed, the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline would transport natural gas, extracted through hydraulic fracturing, from West Virginia to a delivery point in Pittsylvania County. The pipeline would pass through Giles, Montgomery, Roanoke and Franklin counties on its way to the Transco transmission pipeline.
If FERC greenlights the $3.5 billion project, Mountain Valley will have access to eminent domain to obtain rights-of-way across private property.
Opponents have cited the pipeline’s potential impact to the environment, safety and property values. Proponents have said the pipeline would help move abundant natural gas to new markets, boost economic development and provide a cleaner alternative than coal for power generation.
Meanwhile, the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors plans to debate a resolution at its meeting today that would express opposition to the pipeline. Similar resolutions will be considered this week by the Blacksburg Town Council and the Giles County Board of Supervisors.
The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors voted Nov. 12 to oppose the pipeline’s route as currently proposed by Mountain Valley — a route that would be in proximity to at least two residential subdivisions.