Collocation is a common practice in the energy industry where mass-transmission infrastructure, such as large pipelines and high-voltage powerlines, are constructed in shared easements. Common easements used for collocation are gas and oil pipelines, high-voltage power lines, railroads, highways, and other infrastructure. Collocating projects reduces costs to companies by making more efficient use of easements, and it protects individual citizens by making use of land that has already been acquired instead of using eminent domain. The governing code of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which regulates interstate energy projects, mandates that “The use, widening, or extension of existing rights-of-way must be considered in locating proposed facilities.”
The industry average for collocation of mass-transmission pipelines in America is over 50% of the route. By contrast, Dominion Resource’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is a posterchild for landowner abuse, proposing to collocate only 5% of its route – the least of all major pipeline companies. The other 95% will be acquired by threatening landowners with eminent domain, but it does not need to be this way. A web of possible rights-of-way covers Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina, providing multiple routes on which Dominion Resources could co-locate almost 100% of the ACP without significantly lengthening it. Dominion even owns one of the most promising options – electric transmission lines running parallel to the entire route of the proposed ACP through West Virginia and Virginia.
In the case of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, collocation is an especially promising alternative. There are currently three mass-transmission pipelines, which if approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, could be constructed concurrently. All of these pipelines would originate in the same region of West Virginia and run southeast into Virginia. Constructing the pipelines at the same time in a single shared easement would greatly reduce the amount of land needed and the construction costs of the project. Because installation of the pipelines could be done at the same time, the costs of right-of-way acquisition, clearing, and excavation could all be divided among the companies.