Mountaineer Gas Co. is seeking approval from the West Virginia Public Service Commission for a major natural gas distribution line expansion in Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties.
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) Mountaineer Gas Co. is seeking approval from the West Virginia Public Service Commission for a major natural gas distribution line expansion in Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties.
The company's senior vice president, Moses Skaff, told The Journal of Martinsburg that the proposed project would run a 27-mi. (43.5 km) distribution line from a Columbia Gas transmission line in Pennsylvania to Berkeley Springs and then onto the north end of Martinsburg.
The proposed second phase would run a 29-mi. (46.6 km) line extension from Martinsburg through Jefferson County to Charles Town and Ranson, Middleway and Shepherdstown, Skaff said.
He said the projected cost of the 56-mi. (90 km) line extension is about $45 million.
Specific routes have not been determined yet, he said, but the company has laid out five-mile-wide corridors through which the line could go.
Efforts to increase the natural gas capacity, especially in Berkeley and Jefferson counties, have been underway for several years.
“This is the culmination of several years of work,” John Reisenweber, executive director of the Jefferson County Development Authority, said in a telephone interview. “The Jefferson County Commission funded the first feasibility study for expanding natural gas. And we were happy when Berkeley County got on board. And Gov. [Earl Ray] Tomblin made it a priority.”
Reisenweber said the potential for economic development is exciting with this proposed project.
“This will allow us to pursue prospects and projects that couldn't pursue before,” he said.
Skaff credited the local economic development agencies and the governor's economic development office for driving the project forward.
“It came to a head when Procter and Gamble wanted to move into the Eastern Panhandle,” he said
The P&G plant now under construction at Tabler Station Road will use all the natural gas capacity available through Mountaineer Gas' existing line that runs from Virginia northward through Berkeley County, he said.
Local economic development authority leaders have said the area has lost business because there was not enough natural gas capacity for large manufacturing plants.
Mountaineer's application must be approved by the PSC. Skaff hopes the PSC will rule on the company's application by Aug. 1.
“And if all goes well, we could be hooking up customers by the end of 2017,” Skaff said.
Mountaineer Gas, headquartered in Charleston, is a wholly distribution company, meaning it buys gas from transmission companies and distributes the gas to local customers. Mountaineer's entire operation is within West Virginia.
The company has about 220,000 customers and 5,000 mi. (8,046.7 km) of pipe lines.
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