Dominion’s original cost estimate for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was $4.5-5 billion, and the original in-service date was late 2018.
Costs are up: according to S&P Global, “The 600-mile pipeline, which would run through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, moving Appalachian Basin gas to Mid-Atlantic markets, is now expected to cost approximately $8 billion, slightly above the high end of Dominion’s previous guidance range of $7.3 billion to $7.8 billion.” That’s a little under double the original cost estimate.
Seeking Alpha tells us that Dominion has “so far spent $3.4 billion on Atlantic Coast Pipeline.” That is well over half of what the original total cost estimate was for the ACP, with nothing yet in the ground.
In his January 2020 report, Why Support for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Adds Risks to Shareholders and Ratepayers, Tom Hadwin, a former utility company executive and a member of the Steering Committee of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, clearly explains why both stockholders and customers are losers in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline should be built.
His Executive Summary states:
- Continued efforts to complete the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) are fraught with risks.
- A huge surplus of generating capacity exists within the region. S&P Global Market Intelligence says we have a glut of gas-fired generation. The surplus capacity in the PJM region is growing and will last past 2050.
- About 80% of the capacity of the ACP was reserved for new power plants. Large gas-fired facilities, once thought necessary when the pipeline was proposed, have been cancelled or significantly postponed.
- Existing pipelines serving Virginia and the Carolinas have already increased in capacity by more than what the ACP would provide.
- Our region has access to all the gas we need without the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
- Rather than saving us money, the ACP will add tens of billions of dollars to our energy costs in just 20 years.
- Utility customers will be asked to pay in full for the capacity reservations on the ACP whether all of it is used or not.
- The full report expands on these points, and also provides a summary of the ACP’s revoked permits and legal obstacles.
Reminding us that numerous recent articles document over and over a long-term glut of natural gas-fired power plants, a long-term glut in natural gas supplies, and a decreasing demand for natural gas, Hadwin says, “There is no reason to burden families and businesses in Virginia and North Carolina with more than $30 billion in added energy costs for an unnecessary pipeline.”
He concludes, “To embrace the future, our energy companies must cut the chain that ties them to the outdated business model that keeps their thinking confined to the options that worked well in the 20th century. They can embark on that new path by cutting loose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. New opportunities arise when tough decisions are made.”
The following announcement from the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) appears in their ABRA Update 261 for January 30, 2020.
“Continued efforts to complete the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) are fraught with risks” to investors, ratepayers and those who live along the route of the ACP, according to a new paper released January 30 by ABRA. “Why Support for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Adds Risks to Shareholders and Ratepayers” is authored by Thomas Hadwin, a former utility executive who is a member of ABRA’s Steering Committee.
Hadwin points out that since 2014, when the ACP was proposed, existing pipelines serving Virginia and the Carolinas have increased in capacity more than the ACP would provide. The paper explains that the cost for Dominion subsidiaries to use gas from the ACP would be over four times as expensive as gas transported by the Transco system, where sufficient capacity exists. The same would be true for Duke Energy’s subsidiaries.
Describing the environmental risks associated with the project, the paper notes that over 150-miles of the ACP route – one-fourth its length – would traverse terrain that is landslide prone. ABRA will be releasing next month a study on the landslide threat to pipelines built through the central Appalachian region. The paper concludes: “We have an overabundance of gas-fired generating capacity and gas transmission pipeline capacity. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is not a solution. It is part of the problem.
From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #257, December 19, 2019:
Efforts by Dominion Energy to convince Congress to approve having the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail have not yielded results. For most of the past year Dominion has been seeking to have a rider added to other legislation that would, in effect, overturn the decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that vacated the permit for the ACP issued by the U.S. Forest Service. Within the past week, two prominent bills that were believed to be possible vehicles for the Dominion amendment – the National Defense Authorization Act and the continuing resolution funding the Federal Government –passed without language addressing the AT issue. For now, the issue remains pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is scheduled to hear arguments on an appeal of the Fourth Circuit decision on the case (U.S. Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, et. al.) on February 24. A decision on the case is anticipated to be announced in June.
In a first-of-its-kind analysis, the Energy and Policy Institute has examined the charitable contributions of 10 leading investor-owned electric utilities in the U.S., finding that all of these major utilities use charitable giving to manipulate politics, policies and regulation in ways designed to increase shareholder profits, often at the expense of low-income communities whose communities are more likely to bear the brunt of climate impacts and suffer higher levels of air pollution.
Strings Attached: How utilities use charitable giving to influence politics and increase investor profits, finds that:
- From 2013 to 2017, EPI estimates that the 10 utilities that we assessed – Ameren, American Electric Power, Arizona Public Service, Dominion Energy, DTE Energy, Duke Energy, Entergy, FirstEnergy, NextEra Energy, and Southern Company – gave approximately $1 billion to charitable organizations
- That number, for just 10 companies, is 13 times greater than the $78 million that the entire utility sector – including political action committees and individual employees – contributed to federal elections in the 2014, 2016, and 2018 cycle
- Much of the utilities’ charitable activity is geared explicitly to influence politics
- Organizations who received contributions from the utility companies engaged in political activities on the companies’ behalf without disclosing that reality publicly
- Utilities use charities to extort support from low-income communities and communities of color
- These companies spend millions of dollars, earned from captive customers, to prosecute their political arguments, and have the resources to employ fleets of lobbyists and lawyers to represent them at public utility commissions and state legislatures.
We are told that Dominion will be trying very hard in the last weeks of this Congressional session to persuade members of Congress to ignore the pending Supreme Court process and adopt legislation to immediately permit the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and future natural gas pipelines through our national forests and across the Appalachian Trail.
Please (yet again!) contact your Congressional Representative and Senators Warner and Kaine and ask them to watch for and oppose – and ask their leadership to oppose – any rider or amendment to a congressional bill or continuing resolution that would allow Dominion to bypass the case to be heard before the Supreme Court on February 24, 2020.
Here are documents to help you as you contact your legislators: