It was six-years ago this week that Dominion Energy began contacting local officials in Virginia and West Virginia to advise them of the company’s plans to build a natural gas pipeline through their communities. Initially called the Southeast Reliability Project, the pipeline was to cost $4 billion and be operational by end of 2018. In September, the project was re-named the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Duke Energy was named as a partner. Also in September 2014, the organization of ABRA was announced.
In its briefings of county boards that summer, Dominion representatives stated:
- The project would be the “energy equivalent of broadband infrastructure,” providing a “key driver in a community’s ability to attract economic development.”
- It would promote price stability and enhance economic opportunity.
- Substantial economic benefits including a substantial number of well-paying construction jobs and additional tax base in communities along the route” would be provided.
- Dominion looks forward to working with affected landowners and communities “to ensure that we can optimize the balance of environmental stewardship and economic opportunity that is created” by the project.
As of May 2020:
- The project, approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on October 13, 2017, is lacking 8 key permits, primarily as the result of lawsuits brought by ABRA members and allied organizations. The missing permits are those from the Forest Service, Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Air Pollution Control Board and needed permits from four Army Corps of Engineers Districts.
- Construction on the project has remained suspended since December 2018, 17-months ago.
- The estimated cost of the ACP is now $8 billion, twice the original estimate.
- The ACP, if built, is not expected to be operational until 2022, 3-years later than planned.
The final chapter of this story has yet to be written. ABRA members and supporters can take satisfaction in the fact that they have had a major part in influencing the story so far.