[caption id="attachment_4860" align="alignleft" width="300"]<a href="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2014\/08\/HighlandMtg01.jpg"><img class="wp-image-4860 size-medium" src="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2014\/08\/HighlandMtg01-300x208.jpg" alt="A timeline provided by Dominion executives during a meeting with the Highland County Board of Supervisors on August 5, 2014. " width="300" height="208" \/><\/a> A public participation timeline provided by Dominion executives during a meeting with the Highland County Board of Supervisors on August 5, 2014.[\/caption]\r\n\r\nThe courtroom in Highland County, Virginia was filled to capacity on August 5 for a meeting between the Highland County Supervisors and representatives of Dominion Resources, Inc. The hot topic on the agenda was a report from Dominion on a proposal to build a natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina. The proposal has generated enormous local interest and concern because the 42-inch pipeline is plotted across northern Pocahontas County and central Highland County.\r\n\r\nSeveral Dominion executives attended the meeting, including Vice President of Corporate Communications Chet Wade; Manager of Legislative, State and Local Affairs Emmett Toms; engineer Brittany Moody; Environmental Manager Bill Scarpinato; and Manager of Land Acquisition Ramona Kanouff. Dominion is based in Richmond, Virginia.\r\n\r\nWade and Toms gave information briefings, after which Supervisors asked questions. Members of the public were not allowed to participate in the session with Dominion.\r\n\r\nWade said Dominion has not decided to build the pipeline.\r\n\r\n\u201cTonight, we will probably not have all the information that you want,\u201d he said. \u201cIt's not that we don't want to give it to you. In part, it's because, sometimes, the information just doesn't exist yet. There's not a final route. We haven't made a decision to move forward yet. Lots of unanswered questions.\u201d\r\n\r\nNegotiations with potential customers must conclude before Dominion renders a decision to build or not to build.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe are in negotiations right now with a number of potential customers for this project,\u201d said Wade. \u201cThat's a very key point in developing a project like this. Until you have customers, you really can't move forward. \u201c\r\n\r\nDominion expects to issue a decision within the next two months.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe've had a lot of interest in this project,\u201d said Wade. \u201cThere's a lot of need for natural gas throughout Virginia and North Carolina. We expect, within the next 60 days, to be able to reach a conclusion of those discussions. At that point, you'd expect to hear more about our determination about whether we intend to move forward or not with the project.\u201d\r\n\r\nToms said potential benefits to the local area from the project include property tax revenues, near-term employment opportunities, economic activity for local businesses and economic development potential. The manager said construction in Highland County would take about two years, if the project goes forward.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe construction crews that will be here will be buying food, fuel and living here over a two-year period to construct the pipeline,\u201d he said. \u201cThey will not be here for a full two years - they will do it in phases. For example, a weld on a 42-inch line takes about a day-and-a-half. The pipe is about 40 feet long, so the welders will be in the area for a long period of time,\u201d he said. \u201cBut they will be doing that in stages.\u201d\r\n\r\nEnvironmental groups have stated concern about compressor stations, which cover several acres and contain multiple, noisy turbine engines to pressurize and transport gas through the pipeline. Toms said there will be no compressor station in Pocahontas or Highland County.\r\n\r\n\u201cThere will be three compressor stations - one at the beginning of the pipeline in West Virginia, one in the central part of Virginia; and one near the North Carolina state line,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\nThe origin of the pipeline is currently plotted in the Clarksburg area.\r\n\r\nToms said Dominion would file a pre-request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in the fall if the company decides to build the pipeline. The company would file a formal request in the summer of 2016 and expect approval from FERC by summer 2016. If the company obtains FERC approval, it could begin construction of the pipeline in 2017 and place it into service by late 2018, according to Toms.\r\n\r\nSupervisor David Blanchard asked about Dominion's responsibilities in the event of water contamination.\r\n\r\n\u201cThere are a lot of springs in Highland County,\u201d said Blanchard. \u201cWhat is your responsibility if you mess up a landowner's spring?\u201d\r\n\r\nScarpinato said the company would be proactive to avoid water problems.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe're going to be required to evaluate all springs, wells, and water bodies within 200 feet of our proposed service area - not just the actual right-of-way,\u201d he said. \u201cWe are going to first try to avoid all springs, because that causes construction problems that we try to avoid,\u201d he said. \u201cWhere we can\u2019t, we\u2019re going to have to study, evaluate, and negotiate with FERC and the landowners on how to properly proceed.\u201d\r\n\r\nHighland County Attorney Melissa Dowd expressed concern that pipeline construction would place a burden on local fire and rescue first responders. Dowd asked if Dominion could provide assets to alleviate the burden. Wade said \u201cI can't negotiate anything tonight,\u201d but promised to investigate the possibility and provide an answer.\r\n\r\nSupervisor Kevin Wagner asked if Dominion would use eminent domain to obtain easements. Wade responded that Dominion prefers to avoid the use of eminent domain.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe work hard to negotiate a fair price with each landowner one by one,\u201d Wade said. \u201cUnfortunately, if we do get to that process, it\u2019s only after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says that what we\u2019re doing is for the public good.\u201d\r\n\r\nDominion representative Robert Orndorff is scheduled to attend the Pocahontas County Commission meeting on August 19 to provide information on the proposed pipeline in Pocahontas County. As of August 7, the Commission planned to dedicate 30 minutes for the pipeline discussion.