A November 7, 2018, Richmond Times-Dispatch article by Michael Martz, which also appeared in the Daily Progress on November 8, reports that Dominion offers $5.1 million in plan to aid Buckingham community next to pipeline compressor station. Dominion is offering a $5.1 million improvement package to the African-American community that is the site of the proposed compressor station in Buckingham County. The package would include expanded emergency services and a new community center. According to Dominion, the package is “not something that is directly tied to the compressor station air permit. It’s a community need that we want to address.” But the improvement package is contingent on the successful completion of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, whose estimated construction cost has now reached $7 billion (up from the original estimate of $4.5 billion).
Some in the community welcome the package, others deride it. The Rev. Paul Wilson, pastor of the Union Hill and Union Grove Baptist churches near the proposed compressor station’s 58-acre site, says, “They’re using it as a divide-and-conquer technique.” According to the article, “Wilson said he was part of some discussions with Dominion in its attempt to engage the community, but contends the company deliberately left the church out of the discussions that led to the agreement it reached with other residents.”
People and Pipelines is a video series featuring people in the pathway of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline – including Nelson County’s Richard Averitt. Through conducted research and on-site interviews, People and Pipelines is a platform for the histories and experiences of people most impacted by the construction of this pipeline. See their Web page for more information and other videos in the series.
On November 2, 2018, the Washington Post published on its website an op-ed by former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican and a conservative – an op-ed opposing Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. In Virginia Has a Pipeline Problem, Cuccinelli, who was Attorney General from 2010-2014, says he is not opposed to natural gas pipelines, and is not opposed to eminent domain for “appropriate and necessary projects. But I am opposed to captive monopoly customers shouldering the cost and risk of Dominion projects that are rubber-stamped without anyone at any level asking whether the pipeline provides value to Virginians.”
He points out that every Dominion customer in Virginia will “pay hard cash for this unneeded project when the utility bill shows up, thanks to a poorly regulated monopoly scheme that Dominion and its political cronies have constructed.”
He reminds readers that “Dominion Energy Virginia testified before the Virginia State Corporation Commission in September that the company has not analyzed how much the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will cost its customers. That answer is, frankly, shocking, especially after a non-Dominion expert testified that the pipeline would raise power bills by $2.5 billion over the next 20 years. Dominion intends to charge its customers for all of its Atlantic Coast Pipeline contract costs, regardless of whether it actually uses the pipeline.”
And he says, “From my view as a former Virginia attorney general, the process that allows Dominion to do business this way is broken, and Virginia consumers will be left holding the bag.”
Read the full Cuccinelli op-ed here. It will appear in the print edition of the Washington Post on Sunday November 4, 2018.
In a November 1, 2018, article in Yahoo Finance, Dominion’s Tom Farrell announced yet another cost increase for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline from a range of $6.0 to $6.5 billion to a range of $6.5 to $7.0 billion, excluding financing costs. “Atlantic Coast Pipeline is pursuing a phased in-service approach with its customers, whereby we maintain a late 2019 in-service for key segments of the project to meet peak winter demand in critically constrained regions served by the project. ACP will be pursuing a mid-2020 in-service date for the remaining segments of the project. Abnormal weather and/or work delays (including delays due to judicial or regulatory action) may result in cost or schedule modifications in the future.”
The original cost projection for the ACP was $4.5 billion and the original expected in-service date was the end of 2018. Numerous independent studies (here, here, and here, for example) have shown that, despite what Dominion says, there are no “critically constrained regions” needing the gas.
Thomas F. Farrell, Dominion CEO, has an op ed column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch for October 20, 2018, Powering Virginia’s future with clean, affordable, and reliable energy. As one might expect, it is filled with misleading and erroneous statements. For a reality check, read Blue Virginia’s detailed commentary on and corrections of the op ed column. Here are three of Blue Virginia’s multiple corrections to Farrell’s piece:
- “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a great example of the type of investment it takes to affordably and reliably power Virginia’s homes and businesses, while also making our energy cleaner.” (This is utter rubbish. In fact, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a massive, multi-billion-dollar boondoggle that is not needed, will likely end up “stranded” in a few years, and which absolutely will NOT make “our energy cleaner,” as fracked natural gas must have “methane losses…kept below 3.2 percent for natural gas power plants to have lower life cycle emissions than new coal plants over short time frames of 20 years or fewer,” and that “methane leaks offset much of the climate change benefit of natural gas.”)
- “While the project is overwhelmingly supported by the communities where it’s being built, it has encountered opposition.” (Any serious evidence that this project is “overwhelmingly supported by the communities where it’s being built?”)
- “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will save consumers money on their natural gas and electricity bills” (In fact, according to Will Cleveland of the Southern Environmental Law Center, “the pipeline contract that Dominion has signed on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will actually increase customer costs by about two billion dollars”)
In his excellent October 18, 2018, Virginia Mercury article, Virginia’s pipeline projects and the aura of inevitability, Reporter Robert Zullo nails the Dominion methodology: “Indeed, plunging ahead with as much work as it can get away with before all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed seems a deliberate strategy to deflate opposition and stay ahead of a slew of court decisions that have found major flaws in the federal approval process. If trees are coming down here and pipe is going in the ground elsewhere, the thing must be getting built, right?”
FERC has given Dominion permission to begin non-mechanized tree cutting on the proposed Union Hill compressor station site (see FERC Authorizes Tree Felling at Union Hill) despite the fact that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline still lacks an air permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for the compressor station, and despite the fact that construction in Virginia is under a stay order from the 4th Circuit Court pending outcome of hearings on both Forest Service permits and Fish and Wildlife permits.
Zullo points out that Virginia’s DEQ has enhanced the “aura of inevitability surrounding the ACP and a separate project planned to cross through southwest Virginia: the Mountain Valley Pipeline” by its ongoing abdication of responsibilities. Secretary of Natural Resources Matt Strickler continues to dodge the issues by sticking to his policy of maintaining Virginia can’t do anything. He refuses to acknowledge that Virginia DOES have a great deal of authority (e.g., under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act) over these pipeline projects. Instead, Virginia’s regulatory authorities have gone in the other direction, with DEQ for instance “conduct[ing] an all-out push to convince the State Water Control Board to issue water quality certifications for the projects.”
It is psychological warfare. Dominion wants to promote the “aura of inevitability” and make it seem as if the pipelines are a done deal in order to demoralize opponents and make them give up their fight. Well, the pipelines are not done deals, and the fight isn’t over, and we are still here fighting!