No Gain for Energy Prices:
Dominion has assured Virginia residents that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will mean lower utility costs, but this is a false assumption based on the currently low price of natural gas. According to Jon. B. Wellinghoff, former Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the price of natural gas is determined in the global – not local – marketplace, and gas prices are three times higher in Asia and Europe. With 14 natural gas export terminals schedule to be built in the U.S. over the next decade, American natural gas companies will become global suppliers, and prices will likely be higher and more volatile in the U.S. as a result.
Wellinghoff also suggests that utility costs will increase in Virginia regardless of a switch from coal to natural gas unless there is significant investment in renewable solar and wind power and energy efficiency. The United States loses up to 40% of its harnessed energy because of outdated grid infrastructure, and Virginia ranks 35th nationally in energy efficiency. Improving infrastructure and making smarter personal choices such as updating air conditioning units and using LED light bulbs would make energy use more efficient and lower utility costs.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline presents a clear economic benefit to Dominion Power, but Virginians will not see this benefit reflected in utility bills for their homes and businesses. Dominion’s prices will remain steady or even increase as they engage in the global energy marketplace and deemphasize energy efficiency and renewable resources as priorities in Virginia.
No Gain for Jobs in Virginia:
In an official Project Overview for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Dominion claims it will create nearly 9,000 jobs in Virginia and invest nearly $1.7 billion in construction and operations. However, this number is based on the unrealistic assumption that the ACP’s presence will create service industry jobs and attract new companies to Virginia. According to Chmura Economics and Analytics, only 827 jobs will be directly created in constructing the pipeline. Most of these jobs will go to unionized, skilled tradespeople in the pipeline industry who travel from states like Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma where large pipelines are prevalent. A few temporary local jobs such as gravel hauling, flagmen, sign placement, and backfilling trenches with shovels may be available to local residents. Only 39 full-time permanent jobs will be created to operate ACP compressor and transmission stations in Virginia.
In addition, the ACP may have a negative overall effect on jobs in both agriculture, construction, and tourism sectors along its proposed route, and potential new employers might be reluctant to relocate to properties exposed to one of the nation’s largest natural gas pipelines, eliminating the overall employment gain for Virginia.