Regional Energy Access FAQs
Why is it needed?
Natural gas demand is at an all-time high. The Transco pipeline, which has been providing safe and reliable service in this area for decades, is currently operating at capacity. As our customers’ demand for gas increases, we have to periodically expand our existing facilities to allow more gas to be transported through our pipeline system. Regional Energy Access will help ease supply constraints affecting customers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland, providing enough natural gas supply to serve approximately 3 million homes.
Who is the customer?
The Transco pipeline provides natural gas to public utilities, marketers, and power plants across the northeast. Regional Energy will provide energy to customers across New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
When would the project be built?
If approved by FERC, construction would begin in the fourth quarter of 2022 so that it can be placed into service by the end of 2023.
How much gas would you be delivering?
The project is designed to increase capacity by up to 760 million cubic feet – bringing enough energy supply to power approximately 3 million homes.
What facilities will you be adding?
The project consists of about 35.7 total miles of pipeline in Pennsylvania, installed as loops parallel to the existing Transco pipeline system, in addition to a new greenfield compressor station in Gloucester County, NJ and other existing compressor facility modifications.
- Greenfield compressor facility (Station 201) in Gloucester County, NJ
- 22.0 mile, 30-inch pipe lateral in Luzerne County, PA
- 13.8 mile, 42-inch pipe loop in Monroe County, PA
- Modifications to existing compressor facilities in Somerset County, NJ (Station 505), Luzerne County, PA (Station 515), and York County, PA (Station 195)
Modifications at existing facilities including pooling points and meter and regulator stations
What is your schedule?
- 2nd Quarter 2020 – FERC pre-filing
- 2nd Quarter 2020 – Project open houses/ public meetings
- 4th Quarter 2020 – Submit 7(c) application to FERC
- 4th Quarter 2022 – Proposed construction start
- 4th Quarter 2023 – Proposed in-service
What percentage of the current gas flow is used for domestic applications, not for distribution overseas?
Transco does not own the gas that flows through our system. The company has agreements with shippers to transport energy throughout the United Stated and those shippers may have contracts to move a minimal portion of the total flow overseas.
What percentage of the new flow is designated in the same manner?
Regional Energy Access is a project designed to meet the market needs of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
How many transmission lines are currently in the existing path and how old are they?
Williams transmission lines in the area of the proposed expansion include Leidy lines A, B and C, which have been operating for several decades.
How is Regional Energy Access different from the PennEast Project?
Regional Energy does not include any greenfield pipeline in New Jersey, rather the project is designed to maximize the use of existing energy infrastructure to reduce environmental impacts.
Can you use eminent domain to take my property?
In the pipeline context, eminent domain is a tool to allow Williams to obtain the limited rights it needs on private property to complete pipeline projects which have already been determined by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to be in the public interest. Williams pays fair market value for the impact on the land of any affected landowner. It is Williams’ intent and desire to obtain all easements through negotiation and it considers the use of eminent domain as a last resort.
Do you need permission to survey?
It is our strict policy to only survey on properties where we have obtained permission from the landowner.
What if I don’t give you permission?
Williams will only survey if we are given permission by the landowner. In cases where we do not receive survey permission, Williams will use other available data, such as aerial photography and existing land and environmental records.
How wide of an area are you surveying?
It is our strict policy to only survey on properties where we have obtained permission from the landowner.
How do you determine the price you’ll pay?
The valuation of the easement will be determined by the market value of land in the area. This is determined by independent sources, such as county deed and tax records, local appraisers, real estate brokers and other real estate professionals, and considers such factors as length, width, existing use and comparable land sales in the area. Impact to the remaining property may also be considered. This information will be shared with the landowner and fair compensation will be offered.
Do pipelines impact property value?
The pipeline and associated easement should not impact the value of your property. Multiple studies across the country have found minimal to no correlation between a property’s sales price and its vicinity to a gas transmission pipeline.
Do pipelines impact my homeowners insurance?
In our experience, insurance underwriters have not considered the presence of a transmission pipeline when determining the cost and coverage of property insurance.
Will you comply with local ordinances?
Williams is encouraged by FERC to cooperate with local jurisdictions, however ultimately FERC has exclusive regulatory jurisdiction over Williams with respect to the siting of pipeline facilities under the Natural Gas Act and the Pipeline Safety Act.
Where will Station 201 be located?
Williams has purchased a potential site in West Deptford, Gloucester County for the construction of a brand new state of the art compressor station. The criteria used to identify the facility location included property availability, pipeline hydraulics, compatibility with local zoning, land use and land development, site terrain, water table and storm water management, and site accessibility.
Will the compressors at Station 201 be in an enclosed building?
The compressors will be inside of an enclosed, sound-attenuating building.
Are the compressors at Station 201 going to be natural gas or electric driven?
Transco plans to install one 16,000HP gas turbine.
What will the noise levels be?
Per federal regulation, the sound emitted from our operation cannot exceed 55 dBA at the nearest noise sensitive area (equivalent to the sound of a household refrigerator).
Are environmental or residential impacts considered when considering a compressor site?
When identifying a potential compressor site, Williams takes a number of factors into consideration. These factors include environmental (wetlands, waterbodies, threatened and endangered species, cultural resources), constructability (parcel size, topography, soil types, proximity to necessary infrastructure), and land use (past and current land use, proximity to existing and planned residential/commercial areas, potential for previous soil/groundwater contamination). When selecting a site, Williams strives to balance all of these factors, and to avoid, minimize, and mitigate any impacts associated with construction or operation of our facility.
What is the scope of the project in Pennsylvania?
The project consists of about 35.7 total miles of pipeline in Pennsylvania, installed as loops parallel to the existing Transco pipeline system. That includes 22 miles of 30 inch pipe lateral in Luzerne County and 13.8 miles of 42 inch pipe loop in Monroe County. There will be modifications to existing compressor facilities in York County and Luzerne County but no new facilities are planned in Pennsylvania.
What are the environmental benefits?
The Regional Energy Access expansion has been designed to minimize environmental impacts by maximizing the use of existing Transco infrastructure and rights of way. The preliminary design of the project consists of additional compression and selected new loop segments along the existing Transco corridor.
Can’t we meet our energy needs with renewables like wind and solar?
Natural gas and the infrastructure that carries it is critical to achieving a clean energy future. Regional gas demand continues to rise as businesses and power plants convert to cleaner-burning gas to reduce emissions and meet clean air goals. More importantly, natural gas is a natural partner with renewables, empowering their growth to achieve an even cleaner energy future.
How has this project minimized environmental impacts?
The Regional Energy Access expansion has been designed to minimize environmental impacts by maximizing the use of existing Transco infrastructure and rights of way.
How much land will be affected by the expansion?
For pipeline loops, the permanent pipeline easement will be expanded by about 25 feet. A 100-foot-wide temporary construction right-of-way installation is required for the installation of the 42-inch-diameter pipeline in Pennsylvania.
Don’t pipelines leak, resulting in methane emission which counter the benefits of burning natural gas?
Williams is deeply committed to reducing methane emissions as part of our Climate Strategy, and pipeline integrity and inspection is a key component of our daily operations. Trained personnel regularly inspect Transco pipeline with aerial and ground inspections. Leak surveys are conducted at least once every year and the pipeline is electronically monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Low-voltage electrical systems, called cathodic protection, are installed to prevent corrosion and regular assessments are conducted for external corrosion, excavation damage or other defects. We prevent internal corrosion through natural gas quality control, pipeline cleaning and other practices.
Is fracking safe?
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has been around for decades. After four years, the EPA recently released a report, concluding: “We did not find evidence that these mechanisms (fracking and other drilling processes) have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.” Groundwater and aquifers tend to be a few hundred feet below the surface, while fracked and injection wells are thousands of feet deep — well below the bedrock that would keep chemicals from rising to groundwater levels. There have been some examples of the cement casings that surround a well’s borehole leaking small amounts of oil, gas or chemicals. But as the EPA study indicates, those are isolated incidents and can be quickly addressed.
Isn’t FERC just a rubber stamp agency?
No. FERC is an independent, non-partisan regulatory agency that oversees all interstate transmission of natural gas, oil and electricity.
Doesn’t the fact that FERC rarely denies an application evidence that the agency is bias toward industry?
No. Rather than being denied by the FERC, most applicants withdraw applications which they know contain issues which would likely prevent FERC approval.
When will you file your FERC application?
4th Quarter 2020
Is the Transco pipeline safe?
Yes. We’ve been operating safely in this area for decades. Safety is the most important aspect of our operations. According to U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) statistics, pipelines are the safest method for transporting energy. As this Project is designed, constructed and operated, Transco is committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety, utilizing construction and operational procedures that exceed already stringent industry regulations.
Is the natural gas pipeline industry safe?
It is important to understand that there are over 300,000 miles of natural gas transmission pipelines in the U.S. and more than two million miles of pipeline when you count distribution lines. Pipeline incidents can be dramatic, but fortunately they are very rare. In the past 20 years, even as populations, pipeline mileage and energy usage have grown, the number of serious pipeline incidents on transmission pipelines have dropped 50 percent. We have new materials, programs and technologies now that we did not have 20 years ago which have made our industry even safer.
How long do pipelines last?
Williams’ pipelines are engineered according to strict industry design and construction standards and the pipe is manufactured from high-strength carbon steel. Williams representatives carefully inspect pipe at the mill to ensure quality exceeds federal standards. Protective coatings are applied to the pipe to resist abrasion and corrosion and all welds are x-rayed to ensure integrity. Once in the ground, pipe is tested by filling with water and pressurizing it to higher than the final maximum operating pressure. There is nothing intrinsic in carbon steel that causes it to age over time. A properly maintained pipeline can last a very long time.
How often do you inspect the pipeline?
Operations personnel regularly inspect the pipeline with aerial and ground inspections. Leak surveys are conducted at least once every year and the pipeline is electronically monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Low-voltage electrical systems, called cathodic protection, are installed to prevent corrosion and regular assessments are conducted for external corrosion, excavation damage or other defects. We prevent internal corrosion through natural gas quality control, pipeline cleaning and other practices. Internal electronic inspection tools, called smart pigs, are used to detect anomalies.
What happens if there is a pipeline incident?
In the event of a rupture, Transco’s top priority would be to shut off the flow of gas, while local emergency officials evacuate nearby residences and extinguish possible perimeter fires.
Do you notify landowners if there is a leak in the pipeline?
Williams has a comprehensive pipeline integrity program that is designed to prevent leaks and accidents from occurring. In the event that a leak is discovered, we attempt to provide notice to the affected landowner before making the necessary repairs.
How do you combat terrorism?
We follow a comprehensive security program and we maintain contact with the Department of Homeland Security. We are in complete compliance with industry guidance, as well as security directives issued by the Office of Pipeline Safety and the Department of Homeland Security.
Who is Williams?
Williams is a 111 year-old company. Major operator of gas pipeline infrastructure. Touches approximately 30% of nation’s natural gas through its 33,000 miles of gathering and transmission operations. Operates three major interstate pipeline systems.
Who is Transco?
The Transco pipeline has reliably served the Northeast regions for more than 60 years, providing service to major local distribution companies. Transco delivers approximately 10% of the nation’s natural gas, providing about half of the gas consumed in New York City, half of the gas consumed in New Jersey and about one-third of the gas consumed in Pennsylvania.
How do I get more information about the project?
Visit the project website https://www.williams.com/expansion-project/regional-energy-access/ or contact Williams Pipeline Expansion with general questions related to the project at PipelineExpansion@williams.com