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Williams/Transco defends its Potomac Expansion Project.

Williams/Transco representative Chris Stockton has a message for the Virginia Run community about the Potomac Expansion Project expected to begin on June 1st and end in November 2007. "We're very sensitive to the visual impact that will be created and have recently made some proposals to the Home Owners Association," he says.

IN AN EFFORT to work with the HOA and to appease the Virginia Run community, Williams/Transco has offered to take three new measures to make the situation more acceptable for homeowners. The company has offered to reduce the size of the above-ground natural gas pipeline facility from 13,000 square feet to 4,600 square feet. Additionally, it has offered to remove the razor barbed wire that was originally going to top off the 7-foot. fence. An 8-foot fence will take its place, but it will be a vinyl chain-link fence that is much more attractive. Finally, Williams/Transco has offered to use a "tennis-court" type see-through fabric on the fence and to provide landscaping for up to six residences that are in close proximity to reduce the visual impact.

"We want to work with the homeowners," says Stockton.

As for the complaints from residents of Virginia Run about the lack of clear and timely information from Williams/ Transco, Stockton said: "We specifically presented the above-ground facilities to the Home Owners Association on June 8, 2006, although we had sent earlier correspondence in addition to conducting public meetings earlier in the year."

Williams/Transco chose the exact location in the middle of the Virginia Run community for specific reasons. Stockton said, "There are a number of advantages to this location, but the main reason is that this location already has the existing above-ground facilities. Introducing these facilities to a new, different location creates new impacts for other residents and park users. Our hydraulic modeling and engineering studies also supported this location."

ALTERNATIVE locations were also explored. But just last week, a milestone in the Potomac Expansion Project took place. On Jan. 18, FERC issued its Environmental Assessment of the proposed project and its consideration of alternative locations. The results were as follows: "Although the alternatives would avoid certain impacts on the Virginia Run Community Association, it would introduce similar impacts to other residents and park users. It is common practice to minimize the visual impacts of above-ground facilities by locating them in areas with existing facilities. Merely transferring impacts from one set of residences without environmental advantages is not sufficient justification for modifying a facility. As a result, we conclude that these alternatives are not preferable to the proposed location. However, we have recommended that Transco further reduce the impact of these facilities by developing a visual screening plan for our approval."

Williams/ Transco says it provides about 25 percent of the natural gas consumed in Virginia and the demand for natural gas is increasing. The consumption of natural gas in Virginia and Maryland is expected to increase 12 percent by 2010.

"To keep up with demand we're expanding certain facilities in Virginia to allow us to deliver an additional 165,000 dekatherms of natural gas, which is enough to serve roughly 700,000 homes," Stockton said.