Larry Hjalmarson sometimes sits in his Houston office and looks at a painting of ice skaters in New York City. He pictures someone pulling off the skates and heading back to a high-rise apartment to get warm.
The vice president of safety, environmental and pipeline integrity for Williams (Transco) knows that the gas that warms those skaters will travel from Houston, through Madison County, Georgia, and up the east coast to the “Big Apple.” He and other company workers are responsible for getting the 3.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas there safely each day. It takes the gas about four days at 10 miles an hour to make that trip.
“In 62 years that gas has never stopped flowing,” said Hjalmarson.
Of course, the gas must be sped up along the pipeline at booster stations, where natural gas is pressurized to help maintain the flow. And Madison County is home to one of Transco’s eastern seaboard booster stations. Actually, Madison County is the site of three major gas pipeline booster stations — one natural gas (Williams) and two petroleum (Colonial and Plantation). In that way, Madison County is a major link in the nation’s energy chain, though it’s easy to overlook this fact, considering that the pipelines are buried three to four feet underground.
These pipeline booster stations are occasionally in the news locally. Most recently, the Williams station in Comer applied for renewal of its air emissions permit from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.