Risky and Unnecessary Natural Gas Pipelines Threaten Our Region

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SELC requests FERC hearing as Dominion, Duke Energy look to build ACP on the backs of customers More »

SELC, on behalf of its clients, 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.

“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,” said Senior Attorney Greg Buppert. “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.”

The proposed 600 mile-long pipeline, through intact forests, sensitive waterways, and minority and low income communities in Virginia and North Carolina will yield a 14% guaranteed rate of return from the federal government to Dominion and Duke Energy power companies and shareholders.

“Everyone is trying to build a new pipeline because it’s a cash machine,” said Tom Hadwin a former utility executive in New York and Michigan. “Utilities all over the country are over projecting an increase in demand and overbuilding new power plants. No gas-fired power plants, no need for a pipeline.”

Over the years FERC has repeatedly rubber-stamped pipeline projects relying solely on contracts and never examining the actual market demand for a new natural gas supply. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is intended to serve gas-fired power plants. But in recent years forecasters have dramatically revised predictions downward for electricity demand in our region.

SELC is filing a motion today requesting FERC 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 is filing this 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.

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Rivers, streams and forests of the central Appalachian Mountains are in the crosshairs of proposed interstate gas pipeline projects. One of these projects, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, would cut through one of the most intact conservation landscapes in the Southeast in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, including sections of the George Washington, and Monongahela national forests, to move natural gas from the well-fields to Mid-Atlantic and Southeast customers.

Dominion Energy, Duke Energy and their partners are rushing forward with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline even though it lacks strong market support. This unnecessary pipeline will not only harm the mountains, forests and waterways in it’s path – it will also disrupt the lives of the people living and working along its 600 mile long route and lock a new generation into decades more of fossil fuel consumption. One of the people in the path of the pipeline is Tom Hadwin is threatened by Dominion’s pipeline.

SELC is advocating for a thorough and transparent assessment of need for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In the three years since this project was proposed its justification has continued to erode. New analysis shows that demand for gas-fired electricity generation is not growing in our region. But utilities in the region continue to inflate the need for electricity.

Question of Demand

There is notable difference between Dominion’s inflated demand projection and that of the region’s grid operator, PJM Interconnection. By 2027, that difference equals almost 2 gas-fired power plants.

SELC is a founding member of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, a coalition of 43 organizations from across Virginia and West Virginia with grave concerns about the proposed route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. SELC has partnered with citizens who are acutely concerned about the risks to their agricultural and rural communities, including damage to scenic landscapes and the risk of pollution.

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