TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - North America’s largest energy infrastructure company will expand its current operations in Cochise County in a $40 million project expected to begin next year.
After a nearly two-year search for land to build its new natural gas compressor station, Texas-based Kinder Morgan will construct the facility next to its existing Willcox Compressor Station, located on Arzberger Road.
The decision followed an extensive public outreach process, which included input from the nearby vineyards along the Willcox Bench – the company had originally wanted to build the Dragoon Compressor Station next to the Kief-Joshua Vineyard, located about half a mile from the existing station. Owner Kief Manning expressed concerns about the potential impact of the development on his crops, as well as the aesthetics of the project in a rural area.
During a presentation to the Board of Supervisors on October 23, Allen Fore, Kinder Morgan’s Vice President, Public Affairs, said, “We felt it would be better to try to have a location less impactful on the wine business. Fortunately, we had an alternative site that was already there.”
Fore added the existing 61-acre site provides a number of benefits, including its distance from local vineyards, it’s already owned by the company, and will not require any new access roads.
The South Mainline Expansion project will modify and expand portions of Kinder Morgan’s El Paso Natural Gas Company pipeline system located in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. It will expand natural gas transportation capacity along an existing pipeline system to meet increased demand from Arizona electric utility providers, as well as exports to Mexico.
Construction of the new compressor station, which will occupy five acres, is expected to cost approximately $40 million and create 50 construction jobs during the peak of activity. Once completed, Kinder Morgan believes Dragoon Compressor Station will generate about $1.1 million of increased annual tax revenue to state and local taxing authorities. The company said both noise and light pollution will be kept within required guidelines.
The company, which operates 840 miles of pipelines in Cochise County, has submitted its application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and expects to receive approval during the second quarter of 2019. It has received its Arizona Department of Environmental Quality air permit, and an environmental assessment is currently being carried out.
Permit applications will be submitted to Cochise County by June next year, and construction is expected to begin in late 2019. The proposed in-service date is fall 2020.
During the meeting, Fore said the company’s goal is to be a community partner through local investment and grants, to boost economic development, and to be a good neighbor.
“This is a good project both regionally and nationally,” he said. “We also want to have a facility that’s as compatible as possible.”
Supervisor Peggy Judd, whose district includes the Willcox region, said she was happy to see the project moving forward.
“I’m excited to see this about to be permitted,” she said.
The company is looking to provide community grants in Cochise County through the Kinder Morgan Foundation. For more information visit www.kindermorgan.com/community