The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), on on behalf of its clients, has filed a motion asking that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hold a hearing on the legitimacy of Dominion and Duke Energy’s natural gas demand claims as a basis for building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. They note that FERC repeatedly and routinely has rubber-stamped pipeline projects relying solely on contracts and never examining the actual market demand for a new natural gas supply.
SELC’s June 21, 2017 motion asks FERC to hold a hearing to ensure consumers and landowners are protected from an unnecessary pipeline and resolve the following disputed issues:
Agreements between Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC and its own affiliates are insufficient evidence that there is a growing demand for natural gas.
New forecasts from the Energy Information Administration and the regional grid manager show no growth in demand for natural gas needs in Virginia and North Carolina through 2030.
Already existing and planned pipeline capacity in the region is adequate to meet any demand that does exist.
SELC’s Senior Attorney Greg Buppert comments, “If you look behind the claims that this pipeline is needed, what you’ll find is that Dominion and Duke subsidiaries are contracting with each other to manufacture a need for natural gas in Virginia and North Carolina. This pipeline will provide Duke and Dominion with an exceptionally high rate of return at little to no risk. That risk falls on the shoulders of utility customers who will have higher power bills and be stuck paying for a pipeline for decades to come.”
SELC filed the motion on behalf of Shenandoah Valley Network, Highlanders for Responsible Development, Virginia Wilderness Committee, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Cowpasture River Preservation Association, Friends of Buckingham, and Winyah Rivers Foundation.
Dominion and Duke Energy are building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on the backs of customers. Customers don’t need this natural gas – but building pipelines is guaranteed money for these companies – so they build them anyway. Tom Hadwin, a former utility executive at Consumers Energy in Michigan and New York State Electric and Gas, explains the way Dominion and Duke Energy have manufactured a false need for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline by over-estimating future demand.
“Twenty-four of the 25 counties that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) would impact are below the median income level for their state. These low income counties will suffer further if the pipeline is constructed, through lowered property values, reduced revenue to local governments, and reduced tourism.
“Here is an example of economic hardship from the ACP even before it is built. We have an elderly neighbor and friend who recently lost his wife. His health is in decline, and he needs to pay for additional care at this time. His meager savings are being rapidly depleted, and he would like to sell his small piece of property to keep from going bankrupt. His property is in the blast zone of the ACP, virtually eliminating any chance of him being able to sell it. No one is going to buy property near the pipeline with so many other properties available elsewhere.
“Dominion and their tail-wagging Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have stated that property values will not be negatively impacted by the ACP, that local economies will prosper and that jobs will be created.
“The truth is that property values have already fallen significantly, and will fall precipitously if the pipeline is built.
“Local economies will suffer, and few jobs will be created. Even Dominion and FERC admit that only 39 permanent jobs would be created in Virginia, and 25 of them would be in Richmond, leaving only 14 jobs in the impacted communities. No permanent jobs would be created in Western Virginia. Other jobs will likely be lost due to the pipeline, leaving a net loss. Temporary construction jobs will be filled mostly with out-of-state workers who will send their money home.
“I believe that the ACP is intentionally aimed at low-income communities because they are more vulnerable, and less able to resist a corporate attack. Dominion can seize their property more easily than in more affluent areas. This is typical predator behavior, and this will be the legacy of the ACP if it is built as proposed. We should not tolerate this in America.”
A May 23, 2017 Bloomberg article discusses how the glut of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale has led to a massive boom in construction of new power plants. Dozens have been built in the last two years alone, adding a huge amount of power generation to a region that alredy has more than it needs. “There isn’t nearly enough electricity demand to support all the new capacity. And as wholesale electricity prices plunge, industry experts are anticipating a fire sale of scores of plants in the region. Many, in fact, have already been sold along the PJM Interconnection LLC grid, the nation’s largest, encompassing 13 states from Virginia to Illinois.” The slowdown in closures of coal-fired power plants resulting from more favorable policies under the Trump administration makes for an even bigger glut of power plants.
Yet despite decreasing demand for power and more power plants than needed, Dominion continues to insist it needs the ACP to meet increasing demand.
Where is the money is coming from? Are you supporting destructive and unnecessary pipelines?
Protect and Divest is launching a nationwide divestment campaign to defund the pipelines threatening the East Coast. From Atlantic Sunrise to Atlantic Coast to PennEast to Sabal Trail to Mountain Valley, environmental and native rights are at stake.
Divest your money from the banks funding these projects and show the world that we will not fund our destruction anymore!