“Leaking Serious Oil”

“Forgive the imagery (and the irony), but the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is increasingly looking like an old automobile in need of a valve job – it is leaking serious oil, suffers by comparison to newer, more advanced models, and even if it can be made roadworthy, you and I will pay the bill for decades.” So says State Representative David Toscano in his blog post on January 2, 2019.

He goes on to describe how what “was first presented about future energy needs requiring the building of this massive new pipeline has been undercut by developments over and over again.” Specifically:

  • “recent testimony before the State Corporation Commission (SCC), critics utilized Dominion Energy’s own data to show that the ACP could increase ratepayer bills as much as $2.3 billion over the life of the project”
  • legal challenges continue, leading to several stays and lawsuits
  • “the energy landscape has changed dramatically in the last few years. Renewables are increasingly competitive with fossil fuel generation”
  • “As costs of renewables have declined, electricity usage remains relatively flat, thereby raising questions about the need for larger pipelines. Though not related exclusively to the pipeline, the SCC recently directed Dominion to refile its Integrated Resources Plan (IRP), largely because the company’s projections of ‘peak load and sales forecasts’ were unjustified by the data, and ‘have been consistently overstated.'”
  • “we now know that Dominion’s existing long term pipeline contracts, mostly with the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline (Transco), can deliver enough gas to existing power plants and even those that may be built in the future”

He concludes that, “there is a need to replace our aging and increasingly decrepit thermal generation fleet (coal, gas, and nuclear power plants), and natural gas remains cheaper and certainly less toxic than coal.” BUT – “As we transition to a carbon-free future, the Commonwealth obviously wants to avoid unacceptable disruptions or major rate spikes. Consequently, there may be a need for some small gas interconnectors (particularly in the Tidewater region) to overcome regional pipeline congestion, and likely some hard choices about pipelines and transmission lines will remain for some time. But those choices do not mean we need to embrace a pipeline as massive as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This behemoth is ‘leaking oil’ and, like that old car, is no longer worth the investment needed to keep it going.”

Read Toscano’s full statement here.