Cold Wave Does NOT Show Pipeline Need

Thomas Hadwin (now living in Waynesboro) served as an executive for electric and gas utilities in Michigan and New York. Writing in the Roanoke Times on February 7, 2018, Hadwin says “Dominion Energy recently claimed — in several news stories and in an op-ed … that the ‘recent cold spell demonstrated a need for new pipeline infrastructure in Virginia.’ This misrepresents what really happened and proposes a solution that is wholly unnecessary and very expensive for the people of Virginia…. Dominion made it sound as if we had gas shortages throughout Virginia. What really happened was that 10 industrial customers of Virginia Natural Gas volunteered to cut back on some of their gas usage in exchange for lower rates. This voluntary curtailment involved 90 fewer industrial customers than during the polar vortex in 2013-2014. Virginia Natural Gas is owned by Southern Company, an owner of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).

“Transco, the nation’s largest pipeline, runs through our state. During this winter’s severe cold, Dominion said it relied on Transco for about 75 percent of its gas supply, including service to its newest power plant in Southside Virginia. Public utilities in North Carolina relied on the Transco system for 100 percent of the state’s supply during the cold spell, according to Dominion. Chris Stockton, a spokesman for the owners of the Transco system, said their pipelines ‘performed remarkably’ during the cold weather. ‘It’s an incredible accomplishment. It’s a testament to the system that we have,’ he said.”

Hadwin points out that:

  • “Transco intends to add more than the capacity of Dominion’s proposed ACP to its existing system before the end of this year. And Columbia Gas, a pipeline that has reliably served Virginia for decades, will add almost as much capacity as the ACP in West Virginia and Virginia this year.”
  • “Families and businesses throughout our state, including those in southeastern Virginia, can have access to all of the gas they need by tapping into the abundant supplies from these existing pipelines, and at a cheaper cost.”
  • “In September 2017, an industry expert testified to Virginia regulators that using the ACP instead of existing pipelines could cost Dominion’s customers $1.6 billion to $2.3 billion more over the 20-year term of the contract with the ACP.”
  • “PJM [the organization that coordinates electricity generation over a 13-state region that includes Virginia] has a surplus of generating capacity that is 75 percent more than it needs for normal reserves. Moreover, PJM expects the growth in electricity use to be relatively flat in Virginia over the next 15 years.”

The bottom line? “Paying more for an unnecessary new pipeline doesn’t make sense. Virginians have all the gas we need at a lower price using the existing pipelines and planned expansions without the need for new pipelines.”