WILKES-BARRE — Williams Partners L.P. Monday announced that construction is officially underway in Pennsylvania on the greenfield portion of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project — an expansion of the existing Transco natural gas pipeline to connect abundant Marcellus gas supplies with markets in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern U.S.
Construction broke ground in Pennsylvania on Friday in Columbia and Wyoming counties as site preparation began for two new natural gas compressor facilities.
According to a news release from the Williams company:
• Compressor Station 605 is a new 30,000-horsepower facility in Clinton Township (Wyoming County), being constructed by VEC, Inc.
• Compressor Station 610 is a new 40,000-horsepower facility in Orange Township (Columbia County) being constructed by LMC Industrial Contractors, Inc.
Construction began last spring on the mainline portion of the Atlantic Sunrise project designed to accommodate bi-directional flow on the existing Transco pipeline system. A portion of the capacity created by these mainline modifications was recently placed into service.
“We are pleased to break ground on the greenfield component of this important project which will leverage existing energy infrastructure to deliver economic growth and help millions of Americans gain access to affordable Pennsylvania-produced clean-burning natural gas,” said Alan Armstrong, Williams’ president and chief executive officer. “We have worked diligently with stakeholders during this multi-year process to develop this project in a manner which not only meets, but often exceeds already high industry standards as reflected by the approval of state and federal permitting agencies following their lengthy and thorough review of this project.”
Earlier this year, supporters of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline gathered to push for approval of the state permits needed for the project, which would add 197 miles of pipeline from northeast to southeast Pennsylvania. The line extension would cross 10 counties, including Luzerne, Columbia, Wyoming and Schuylkill.
Supporters at the rally included state Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-Kingston, and state Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township.
Baker said economic progress always comes with risks and costs. She said the pipeline expansion will yield jobs — proponents predict up to 8,000 — and many energy benefits.
“When a project has gone through the required environmental and legal reviews, we can expect that it will be moving forward,” Baker said. “But we must also insist on proper oversight so that construction is done in conformance with the highest standards and community impacts are minimized to the extent possible.”
The project received Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval in early February.
The project is estimated at a total investment of about $3 billion. Penn State University researchers in 2015 estimated it would have a $1.6 billion economic impact in the 10 Pennsylvania counties covered.
According to an emailed news release from the Williams company, Williams has worked closely with permitting agencies to minimize environmental and stakeholder impacts, making modifications to more than half of the original pipeline route. In addition, Williams has worked with local stakeholders to provide an additional $2.5 million for conservation projects located within the project area.