Daily GPI / Regulatory / NGI The Weekly Gas Market Report / Infrastructure / NGI All News Access

Atlantic Coast Files, Tells FERC Homework Is Done

Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC (ACP) on Friday applied to FERC for permission to build its 564-mile interstate pipeline that would carry Appalachian Basin natural gas to power generation and other markets in Virginia and North Carolina, describing and defending its project with “a stack of paper more than 10 feet tall.”

The 1.5 Bcf/d pipeline is a joint venture led by Dominion (45%) and includes Duke Energy (40%), Piedmont Natural Gas (10%) and AGL Resources (5%). It would run from Harrison County, WV, southeast through Virginia with an extension to Chesapeake, VA, and south through central North Carolina to Robeson County. Pending regulatory approval, construction could begin in the second half of 2016 with in-service during the fourth quarter of 2018.

Utility subsidiaries and affiliates of all four project partners plus PSNC Energy have signed on as customers. Combined, they have subscribed for 96% of ACP capacity. Last month, Southern Company and AGL announced a friendly merger; AGL's natural gas pipeline and other infrastructure assets were cited as an impetus for Southern to buy AGL (see Daily GPIAug. 24).

"In recent years, a combination of population growth and displacement of coal-fired electric power generation has significantly increased the demand for natural gas in Virginia and North Carolina," Dominion said in the filing. "Overall natural gas use grew by 31 and 78%, respectively, in Virginia and North Carolina between 2009 and 2013. Demand for gas-fired electric power generation grew by 67% in Virginia and by 417% in North Carolina from 2009 to 2014."

On Friday Dominion Transmission Inc. applied simultaneously to the the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for its Supply Header Project, a $500 million system with about 38 miles of pipeline and modified compression facilities in West Virginia and Pennsylvania (see Daily GPINov. 5, 2014). It would provide gas to various customers, including ACP, allowing transport from supply areas in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The months leading up to ACP's formal filing at FERC have not been particularly smooth.

Last month, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) asked FERC to extend the timeline for consideration of ACP, saying project backers had not, during the prefiling period, provided BLM and other agencies with enough information to process a right-of-way application (see Daily GPIAug. 20).

In announcing the ACP FERC filing Friday, Dominion emphasized the voluminous nature of the application: 30,000 pages, "a stack of paper more than 10 feet tall."

ACP "has considered more than 3,000 miles of potential routes and made hundreds of route adjustments based on discussions with landowners, public officials and others," Dominion said. "Atlantic has participated in more than 60 public meetings involving thousands of interested individuals, agencies and organizations."

The governors of West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina support the project, as does a labor and business coalition called EnergySure (see Daily GPIJuly 6), Dominion said. However, landowners along the pipeline route have been less receptive, refusing to allow project surveyors onto their property (see Daily GPIDec. 31, 2014). Dominion said Friday it has surveyed about 85% of a proposed route for ACP. Supplemental information is to be filed with the Commission and a final route proposed when surveying is completed.

"The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is essential to meeting the clean energy needs of Virginia and North Carolina, and has significant benefits for West Virginia as well," said Diane Leopold, president of Dominion Energy, the Dominion unit responsible for building and operating the project. "The ACP will enhance overall energy reliability in the region...It will be used to fuel a new generation of efficient power stations being built to achieve future federal and state environmental regulations."

ACP also cited separate research reports by ICF International and Chmura Economics & Analytics that support construction of the pipeline (see Daily GPIDec. 2, 2014). Local governments along the route are expected to receive about $25 million a year in new tax revenues when the full value of the project is ultimately reflected in tax payments, Dominion said.

There's plenty of demand coming for the gas that would move on the pipeline, according to backers. Dominion and Duke Energy are building multiple gas-fired power stations and closing coal-fired units. AGL's Virginia Natural gas has said it needs more gas to meet demand, particularly during peak periods in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. For Piedmont, ACP would provide access to gas from a geographically diverse production region and would help the company meet growing demand in its Carolina markets, Dominion said.

Recent Articles by Joe Fisher