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Need for Atlantic Coast Pipeline Falls

The Free Press WV

The demand the huge Atlantic Coast Pipeline was intended to meet is disappearing, according to documents from the corporations behind the project.

Dominion and Duke Energy own almost all of the pipeline, as well as the electric utilities it would supply with natural gas. When applying for a federal permit, they argued it was needed to meet rising electricity demand in North Carolina and coastal Virginia.

But Cathy Kunkel, an energy analyst with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said utility filings in those states now show the outlook has changed dramatically - in part because of competition from cheap, renewable energy.

“Dominion is not projecting any increase in natural-gas demand until 2032,” Kunkel said. “Duke is still planning to build some natural-gas plants, but most of that has shifted to the late 2020s.“

The energy companies say they need more pipeline capacity to move fracked gas out of the Marcellus and Utica fields of northern West Virginia, where the price for it is artificially depressed by a transportation bottleneck.

The Free Press WV
Dominion is now telling regulators in Virginia that it expects
demand for electricity from natural gas to stay essentially
flat for the next decade and a half.


The 600-mile pipeline across the three states has faced a number of setbacks, including lawsuits by landowners and conservationists. It was recently announced that the total cost of the project would rise to $7.5 billion, and its opening would be delayed until 2021.

If the builders can get state utility regulators’ approval, they can shift the full expense of the line onto ratepayers, along with a guaranteed profit. But Kunkel said investors in the utilities may be starting to worry about the financial risks.

“The project has been delayed by these court challenges, it’s also over-budget,” she said. “And if the state regulators say, ‘You clearly don’t need all of the gas capacity that you signed up for here; we’re not going to let you charge it to your ratepayers,‘ then that would be a very significant blow.“

Kunkel said the incentives tend to make utilities and pipeline companies overestimate demand and overbuild capacity. She said that’s becoming a more serious issue as climate change poses increasing risks.

Kunkel helped write the analysis for a report from IEEFA and Oil Change International.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

“But Cathy Kunkel, an energy analyst with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said utility filings in those states now show the outlook has changed dramatically - in part because of competition from cheap, renewable energy.“

That is utter rubbish.  There is no “cheap, renewable energy.“  Solar and wind are more expensive, even taking subsidies into consideration.  Hydro is more expensive, nuclear is more expensive.

Claiming otherwise is at best fake news, and at worst deliberate misdirection and lying.  Merely claiming renewable energy is less expensive doesn’t make it so.

Sincerely

Pat McGroyne

Comment by Pat McGroyne  on  02.15.2019

Pat, your information is outdated. Solar and wind are increasingly outcompeting fossil fuels, despite the heavy subsidies fossil fuels (and nuclear power) get. They also are getting steadily cheaper, while fossil fuels can be expected to rise as supply diminishes—the pipelines are going in so fast because of the NEED of the gas companies to get their product out to where they HOPE to find better prices—the drillers have been steadily losing money for the whole decade of the fracking “miracle.“ Wall Street is becoming skeptical. The thing about solar and wind is that once they’re built, the fuel keeps arriving, free. Of course, there isn’t much of a wind resource in our area. But there is in the mountain heights, and off the Virginia coast. And solar works fine here—I’ve had an off-grid system for ten years, works great.

Comment by Mary Wildfire  on  02.28.2019

An off grid system works great if you want to live like a hippie. One can cover their entire roof and it will barely power your lighting and a few electronics, let alone our transportation and industrial needs. The humaniacs now complain that the giant windmill blades kill the little birdies, and they have never solved the overpass problem in putting windmills on out autos.

Comment by Vern Windsong  on  03.01.2019
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