The Bulletin

Company exploring new gas pipeline in five central and eastern Va. counties

By: - July 9, 2021 12:02 am

The planned site of the now-canceled Chickahominy Power Station, a proposed natural gas power plant, in Charles City County. (Sarah Vogelsong/Virginia Mercury)

A company that appears to be affiliated with efforts to build a large natural gas plant in Charles City County is exploring the possibility of constructing a gas pipeline through five central and eastern Virginia counties, according to letters sent to residents. 

In the letters, Chickahominy Pipeline, LLC, requests landowners’ permission to enter their property to conduct surveys and other appraisals to determine the feasibility of building a 24-inch gas pipeline along an unspecified route through Charles City, Hanover, Henrico, Louisa and New Kent counties. 

“At this time, we will only be walking to determine the proposed route select (sic), the most visible route that will limit the impact to the property,” reads a letter to Hanover County property owners dated July 2. 

The pipeline company registered with the State Corporation Commission this January and lists the same address and registered agent as Chickahominy Power, LLC, a subsidiary of developer Balico, LLC, which is planning the proposed 1.6-gigawatt gas plant in Charles City County. 

Balico did not respond to an email about pipeline plans. 

What path the project might follow is not clear. Pipelines owned by Transco and Columbia Gas cross through Louisa County, and both Columbia and Virginia Natural Gas operate lines throughout the southeastern portion of the state. 

Chickahominy Power’s 2018 application to the State Corporation Commission for permission to construct and operate the facility noted that a 16-inch gas pipeline owned by Virginia Natural Gas crossed the proposed plant site.

“Acquisition of natural gas production and arrangements for delivery to the facility will be provided by an independent fuel manager,” the application read. “The fuel gas supply system for the facility will receive pipeline quality natural gas from the gas supplier’s pipeline interface location, situated on site. … There are no incremental interstate natural gas pipelines currently related to the facility.”

“However,” the application continued, followed by several lines redacted as confidential. 

Virginia Natural Gas spokesperson Rick DelaHaya said in an email that the company “has not had any discussions” with Chickahominy Pipeline or Encompass Energy, an energy services company listed in the letters to property owners. 

Another potential natural gas plant in Charles City County known as C4GT that would be just over a mile from the Chickahominy Power plant last year attempted to obtain gas through a proposed expansion of Virginia Natural Gas’ existing infrastructure. Those plans were rejected by the State Corporation Commission, which has oversight of utilities including Virginia Natural Gas. VNG has since sued C4GT in federal court for allegedly breaking an agreement between the two entities.

Several residents who received letters expressed concern about the prospect of a new pipeline. 

“This is the first I’ve heard of any pipeline coming through here,” said Catharine Tucker, a botanist who resides in Hanover and whose 70-plus acres of property are protected by a deed of conservation easement. She worried the project could negatively impact her property, which she uses to teach students in the Virginia Master Naturalist program. 

“I don’t quite know what to make of it,” she said. 

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Sarah Vogelsong
Sarah Vogelsong

Sarah is Editor-in-Chief of the Mercury and previously its environment and energy reporter. She has worked for multiple Virginia and regional publications, including Chesapeake Bay Journal, The Progress-Index and The Caroline Progress. Her reporting has won awards from groups such as the Society of Environmental Journalists and Virginia Press Association, and she is an alumna of the Columbia Energy Journalism Initiative and Metcalf Institute Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists.