When announcing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, its owners, including Dominion Energy, said the project is essential for us to have the energy we need, will save us millions of dollars each year, foster economic development and be a windfall for shareholders.

Events since the announcement demonstrate that none of the claims are likely to be true.

The application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) says that 80 percent of the ACP is reserved for power plants in Virginia and North Carolina and claims the ACP is essential to supply them.

However, we no longer need as many new plants as first proposed. If built, they would require less than half of the capacity originally announced as the main reason to build the pipeline.

Recently, Dominion Energy Virginia announced that building more gas-fired power plants “is no longer viable.”

Duke Energy’s electric utilities in the Carolinas have also cut their original requirements. Opponents argue that even current plans depend on exaggerated forecasts of future demand and are far too reliant on long-term use of gas-fired generation.

Proposed gas-fired plants will likely continue to decline. The economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus has reduced electricity demand. A Wood Mackenzie study predicts it might take up to several years before usage returns to present levels. When the ACP is scheduled to begin operation, S&P Global reports there will be 35 percent excess generation in the region from which Virginia draws its power; growing to 60 percent excess by 2027. Duke Energy’s utilities forecast capacity beyond what is needed for reliability.

If additional gas supply is needed, there is a better way to provide it. In August 2018, Dominion informed FERC that the Transco pipeline has sufficient available capacity to meet all of what Duke’s utilities were expecting to get from the ACP and more.

Other Transco expansion projects added even more capacity. Local gas distribution companies in North Carolina owned by Duke and Dominion reserved new capacity from Transco, which has been their primary supplier for decades. New power plants built in North Carolina could as easily connect to Transco as they could to the ACP, proving the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is unnecessary for an adequate supply of energy in the region.

Read more at the Virginia Mercury April 20, 2020

Guest column by Thomas Hadwin

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