By: Michael Campbell, News Editor
11:16 a.m. | August 10, 2017
DINWIDDIE – As representatives of Dominion Energy and the Commonwealth prepare to host a public hearing on a proposed 600-mile underground natural gas pipeline that will move through the western portions of the county, local officials opened up about the county’s stance on the project.
The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline would provide natural gas transmission from the northern reaches of West Virginia, through the Appalachian Mountains and Virginia’s western counties before advancing generally southeastward toward a compressor station near the Virginia-Noth Carolina line, where it will diverge in two directions, due south toward far southern North Carolina and east toward the heart of Hampton Roads in the Commonwealth.
This massive infrastructure project would be developed, built and operated by Atlantic, a company formed by four regionally based energy companies, Dominion Energy, formerly Dominion Virginia Power, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, and Southern Electric Company.
The estimated $5.1 billion project has seen its share of support and opposition as Governor Terry McAuliffe touts the project as a key part of his own initiative to diversify Virginia’s economic footprint through his “New Virginia Economy” initiative while others, including local governments and environmental groups arguing that the negatives of the pipeline far away the positives.
Among the communities speaking against the proposal is Bath County, where the current path of the line has the ACP moving through the northeastern corner of the county before exiting through its border with neighboring Augusta County.
Locally, supervisors were at a crossroads when it came to determining if the county would support or oppose the project, Dinwiddie County Administrator Kevin Massengill explained in an interview.
According to a map provided by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the line would enter Dinwiddie through its western border with Nottoway just south of Wilsons as it moves south through the county past Beaver Pond Creek before exiting Dinwiddie through its southern border with Brunswick County.
That path played a key role in the decision of the Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors to take no stance on the pipeline, not speaking in favor or against the ACP.
“Our Board wondered if we needed a resolution in favor or against the pipeline but it was decided to not take a side,” Massengill said.
He explained that the line moves through a relatively rural area of Dinwiddie County, as opposed to more densely populated areas of the county, such as in the northeastern quadrant of the county or near the Town of McKenney, which is well away from the proposed pipeline’s path.
For Massengill, the pipeline is viewed as more of a statewide economic driver as opposed to a project that could serve to spark economic development for the individual localities that the ACP is moving through.
“We are looking at it from the perspective of it being a Commonwealth-wide impact,” he said. “For Virginia to have the gas pipeline for bigger economic development projects in the state, we don’t see a direct benefit for Dinwiddie on this project.”
Massengill noted that the Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors did ask Dominion Energy to consider putting as much of the ACP on federal lands, such as Fort Pickett, as possible, but he said the path remained unchanged.
“The line as it is currently presented doesn’t show any direct benefit to Dinwiddie,” the county administrator explained, going on to say, “If a large project came in near an area where the pipeline came by, it could help in that situation.”
With the pipeline staying well west of any major population centers, such as towns or subdivisions, Massengill said that helped the Board stay neutral on the proposed pipeline.
“If it came through the middle of the county, we might have had a different stance,” he remarked.
As part of their development efforts, from commercial to residential, and industrial, Massengill said the county’s efforts are currently focused on the county’s northeastern region, comprised of the U.S. Route 1, U.S. Route 460, and Interstate 85 corridors, which is seeing a range of different development thanks to longtime business resident Walmart and its distribution center, along the new employers such as Amazon Fulfillment and the under-construction ALDI regional headquarters and distribution center.
“The Board didn’t take sides because supporting it doesn’t help it come here and not supporting it doesn’t stop it,” Massengill said. “If the state wants to do this, this project is bigger than all of us.”
On Monday, August 14, a public hearing that was slated to be hosted at Dinwiddie High School will instead take place at Southside Virginia Community College’s gymnasium in Alberta from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.