Southern Environmental Law Center Weighs In On Atlantic Coast Pipeline Pt2
In Part One of this story, I spoke with Jonathon Gendzier, staff lawyer with the Southern Environmental Law Center to learn more about pending litigation regarding the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. One of the controversial aspects of this project has been the use of eminent domain by a private corporation to gain right of way for construction.
Mr. Gendzier commented:
“I think that, where we have a situation where two FERC commissioners have themselves said that they do not believe the project is in the public interest – where Dominion has admitted that it conducted no studies about whether it actually needed the pipeline to meet electricity demand – and where you have landowners being asked to shoulder burdens, you have people who live in the area being asked to shoulder a burden, and also customers across Virginia being asked to shoulder the costs of this pipeline – it’s so important that all of the facts about whether the pipeline is actually needed are given a fair hearing.”
He explained how customers would shoulder those costs.
“We know that the total costs for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are around $7 billion now. We also know that this is an appealing proposition for Dominion to construct the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, because they are guaranteed a 15% rate of return on their expenditure by FERC. That’s a better rate than you can get just about anywhere. And their model is to push those costs onto the electricity customers, and evidence has come to light showing that the cost for Virginia customers could be about $2.5 billion.”
He noted how that rate of return would be implemented.
“So Dominion has to seek approval from FERC to build an interstate pipeline – part of that approval involves the rate of return on the costs that Dominion can seek. Those costs get sought at the state level, through the State Corporation Commission, where Dominion will ask the Commission to approve those costs being passed on to customers.”
Mr. Gendzier concluded:
“I would just like to reiterate that this pipeline has been approved by a FERC process that is broken. And we’ve peeled back some of the layers to that process, and put evidence in front of FERC that was sufficient to lead to two FERC commissioners saying that they do not believe that this project is in the public interest. That really just brings it all home, to where you have people along the path of the pipeline, and really customers around Virginia, being asked to make sacrifices for a project that doesn’t appear to actually be necessary.”