By John R. Crane, Danville Register & Bee
A representative for Columbia Gas — which distributes natural gas in Pittsylvania County — said it would have to conduct an economic evaluation before determining whether to extend lines to the town of Gretna.
Gretna is considering whether to try to persuade Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC to re-route its proposed pipeline north — and closer to the town — so it could access its natural gas. Gretna, unlike other towns in Pittsylvania County and the city of Danville, has no natural gas service and Columbia Gas is the only such distributor in the county.
Bob Innes, director of communications and community relations for Columbia Gas, said the company is always looking to expand its customer base but would have to evaluate before hooking Gretna up to the pipeline — if the pipeline project is approved.
“We’re excited to see the potential for additional supply coming into Virginia,” Innes said Friday. “We’re watching it [Mountain Valley Pipeline] with great interest. If we can expand our market, we’re certainly interested.”
Pennsylvania-based EQT Corp. and Florida-based NextEra Energy — through a joint venture with Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC — hope to build a 42-inch, 300-mile natural-gas pipeline from Wetzel County, West Virginia, to the Williams Transco compressor station in Chatham.
The $3-3.5 billion project would run through Giles, Montgomery, Roanoke and Franklin counties before ending in Pittsylvania County.
The company is considering alternate routes for the least overall impact on landowners, the environment and cultural resources.
Mountain Valley Pipeline has no final, defined route and it will be the fall before the company applies to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the project.
Mountain Valley Pipeline Spokeswoman Natalie Cox told the Danville Register & Bee earlier this month it was “premature” to say for sure which areas along the route would have access to natural gas. The project is an “open access” transmission pipeline, meaning public utilities and municipalities would be able to tap into the line for local distribution if the demand is there, she said.
Gretna Mayor Keith Motley said earlier this month that town access to natural gas could help attract new industries considering Gretna.
Callands-Gretna Supervisor Jerry Hagerman spoke to Gretna Town Council during its meeting Feb. 9 about hooking up Gretna to the line. Hagerman, County Administrator Clarence Monday and Assistant County Administrator Greg Sides met with a Columbia Gas Representative on Dec. 23 to gather information about possible distribution in the area.
Innes said Pittsylvania County is the Columbia Gas’s franchised area for providing natural gas service, and is the only distributor serving the county.
The company would have to conduct an economic evaluation of an area before deciding whether to distribute natural has there. Columbia Gas would examine the pipeline’s route into the area, who’s interested in natural gas, energy use levels in the community and types of businesses and industries.
It’s too early to tell whether the company could provide natural gas access for Gretna, Innes said.
“The bottom line is we’re a little bit of ways away from knowing, but we’re going to keep our eye on it [MVP],” Innes said.