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Plenty of Time for FERC Appointments Before Atlantic Coast Decision, Dominion CEO Says

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is unlikely to be impacted by the looming departure of FERC Commissioner Norman Bay, CEO Thomas Farrell told analysts during a 4Q2016 conference call Wednesday.

Bay's surprise resignation, announced last week, will leave the five-seat Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with two sitting Commissioners, meaning it won't have a quorum to act on some agency business.

But for ACP, a 600-mile, 1.5 Bcf/d Marcellus-to-Southeast pipeline that received its draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) just before New Year's, the timing of Bay's exit shouldn't cause any problems, according to Farrell.

"We don't see hurdles to getting our final EIS out in June, as scheduled," Farrell said. "There's an issue, I know, people may have with FERC going down to two Commissioners over the next...week or a few days. We don't need to have a...quorum at FERC until summertime to be on our schedule. So I'm highly confident that the president will appoint folks by then, that they will be confirmed by the Senate and seated."

Farrell described the DEIS as "quite positive" for ACP and said the process of moving forward with the project is "going extremely well" given "all the changes that were necessary as part of the rerouting through the mountains and national forests."

Dominion, developing ACP through a joint venture with Duke Energy and Southern Company Gas, plans to place the project into service in the second half of 2019, adelay from its original target service date in late 2018. That delay came after the U.S. Forest Service required a substantial reroute through the George Washington and Monongahela national forests.

Last year, Farrell said, Dominion placed into service "a record six major pipeline expansion projects" totaling 1.2 Bcf/d of capacity. Six other pipeline growth projects, totaling $700 million in investment and 900 MMcf/d of capacity, are underway and on track for completion by the end of 2018, he said.

Management also updated investors on progress at Dominion's Cove Point liquefied natural gas export project on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The project is 84% complete and on track to go in service later this year..

CFO Mark McGettrick said the dropdown of the Cove Point facility into Dominion Midstream Partners LP, the company's master limited partnership, is expected to generate about $7 billion in cash flow. Management indicated the facility would be dropped down over a three-year period from 2018 through 2020.

Dominion Resources reported net income of $457 million (73 cents/share) for the fourth quarter, compared with $357 million (60 cents) in the year-ago period. Full-year 2016 net income totaled $2.1 billion ($3.44/share), up from $1.9 billion ($3.20) for full-year 2015.

Dominion Midstream Partners reported distributable cash flow (DCF) of $38 million for the fourth quarter, compared with $23 million in the prior-year quarter. Full-year 2016 DCF totaled $106 million, compared with $72 million for full-year 2015.

Dominion Midstream reported a 4Q2016 net income of $36.5 million (38 cents/unit), compared with net income of $25.1 million (32 cents) in the year-ago period. Full-year 2016 net income totaled $106.4 million ($1.30/unit), compared with $72.5 million ($1.08) for 2015.

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