The proposed extension of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) into North Carolina – the so-called Southgate Project – has been called “unnecessary and harmful to the public interest” in comments filed March 31 by Thomas Hadwin of the Friends of Central Shenandoah.
Regarding whether the project is needed, Hadwin states:
Establishing the need for a project involves basic, common sense steps. First, a case is made based on objective information that the demand for gas is increasing. This could be traditional residential, commercial or industrial uses of gas, or gas needed to generate electricity in new or converted power plants. If more gas usage is shown to be occurring, then it should be determined if existing facilities can be used or expanded to meet the growing need.
Low-cost or no-cost options such as more efficient energy use should also be part of this consideration. The National Environmental Policy Act requires that options not within the lead federal agency’s normal jurisdiction should be part of the analysis of alternatives, although FERC has always avoided meeting those legal requirements. The Commission has customarily limited its assessment of alternatives to gas pipelines only. Usually FERC has considered choices that originate only from the proposed starting point of the project to the point of final delivery.
If a new pipeline is recommended, it should be determined if it provides a net economic benefit to the market it serves.
Continuing, Hadwin argues that:
- There are no unmet demands for gas in North Carolina that could absorb this excess capacity. North Carolina is awash in excess pipeline capacity.
- Transco, which has served North Carolina reliably for decades, has already added several million Dth/d of new capacity that is available to the region.
- Contrary to what is claimed by the applicant, the Southgate pipeline is the most expensive option for transporting gas to the area to be served. Existing pipelines that are currently connected to PSNC (a utility company serving 25 counties in North Carolina, which was recently acquired by Dominion Energy) can transport gas at a fraction of the price of what is proposed in the rates for the MVP and Southgate projects.
A copy of Hadwin’s full comments is available here.