Va. Supreme Court Upholds Pipeline Survey Law for 3rd Time

In 2016 the Virginia Supreme Court accepted a case from an 83-year old granny who didn’t want surveyors working for Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline to enter her property to conduct a survey for a possible pipeline route (see A Supreme Court to Hear Atlantic Coast Pipe Survey Case). A 2004 Virginia law specifically allows surveyors to enter a property WITHOUT landowner permission, as long as the surveyors provide ample, advance notice of when they are coming. Granny’s case attempted to challenge and end that law. She failed. Last July the Supremes ruled against her (see Va. Supreme Court Rules Against Granny in Pipeline Survey Case). However, Dominion did get a slap on the wrist. The justices said notifications sent for when surveyors will arrive can no longer say the surveyors will arrive “on or after,” because “after” can mean years later. Instead, Dominion will have to give several potential, specific dates when surveyors will visit a property. Fair enough. Except yet another group of landowners sued attempting to overturn the same law–now for a third time. And this third case also ended up in state Supreme Court. Last Thursday the Supremes ruled 6-1 to uphold the existing law that grants pipelines permission to enter property with advance notice. Third time’s a charm?…
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Enviro Radicals Target ACP with Same Strategy that Shut Down MVP

Believing they have a winning court strategy that has (temporarily) stopped the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in West Virginia (see Sierra Club Succeeds in Delaying MVP Project in WV via Court Order), Sierra Club lawyers set about to try and stop MVP in Virginia too (see Enviro Radicals Target MVP in Va. Following WV Court “Win”). But hey, why stop there? The Clubbers are now attempting to use the SAME legal argument to stop Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) in WV, VA and NC. Their strategy was/is to bamboozle the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth District into stopping construction at stream crossings (hundreds of them) by claiming the pipeline can’t complete required work at some of the crossings within the stated 72 hours called for in the original permit. Therefore, the court needs to reassess the umbrella permit issued for all crossings, stopping work at every single stream crossing–which effectively shuts down construction along the entire pipeline while judges dither around, go on summer vacation, then come back and dither some more before making a decision. The gajillion dollar question is, will the court fall for this sleazy legal trick again, and shut down ACP construction as they have MVP?…
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Dominion Surrenders to Mt. Vernon – Relocating Compressor Station

In October 2016, Dominion announced a new pipeline project called Eastern Market Access Project (see Dominion Announces $145M Project to Expand Gas Supply to DC & MD). The project will beef up two compressor stations in Virginia, build a new compressor station in Maryland, and add a couple of pipeline taps near Washington, D.C. The purpose of the $145 million project is to deliver more gas to Washington Gas (and its customers), and to deliver gas to a new gas-fired electric power plant being built in Maryland. A Dominion spokesman confirmed for MDN that the gas will come from either the Marcellus or Utica plays. The compressor station slated to get built in Maryland sits just across the Potomac River from Mount Vernon–the home and estate of our illustrious first president, George Washington. Mount Vernon is designated as a National Historic Landmark and part of the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places. If you’ve ever visited, it has an incredible view. The folks operating Mount Vernon took exception to a compressor station junking up that incredible view. Dominion says you won’t be able to see the compressor station at all from Mount Vernon, but Dominion’s arguments fell on deaf ears. Last week Mount Vernon launched a very public campaign to stop the new Dominion compressor station from locating across the river. The campaign worked. Facing a PR nightmare, Dominion issued a statement saying they will work with Mount Vernon to find a new/different location for the compressor station, something acceptable to both sides…
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Dominion Bid to Buy SCANA in Trouble Following Passage of SC Bill

In January Dominion Energy announced a deal to buy out and merge in South Carolina-based SCANA Corporation (see Dominion Buys SCANA, Mulls Atlantic Coast Pipe Expansion into SC). SCANA is an energy-based holding company principally engaged, through subsidiaries, in electric and natural gas utility operations and other energy-related businesses. In other words, the local electric and gas company for much of South Carolina. Dominion is a big company with many operations–they are a pipeline company, an electric generating company, and a utility company (like SCANA). The merger makes sense. Dominion gets to grow and add more customers to its utility business. We didn’t think there was any tie-in with the Marcellus/Utica, but turns out there is. We brought you news in early December that Dominion and their partner in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project, Duke Energy, are considering expanding the original ACP to more locations in North Carolina, AND expanding the pipeline into South Carolina (see Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s Future Plans: Expand in NC & SC). Dominion openly says that the SCANA purchase makes it more likely they will push to expand ACP into SC–meaning even more Marcellus/Utica gas could be flowing to Dixie. But now there’s a big, fat wrinkle. SCANA is in trouble because they began to build, and later abandoned, a nuclear plant project–costing ratepayers millions of dollars. SC politicians want to rebate some of the money that was paid for the project back to ratepayers. They passed a bill on Wednesday (now on the governor’s desk) that will slash rates for customers by 15%. Dominion reacted strongly, implying they may pull out of the deal if the bill is signed by the governor…
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Dominion Energy Launches New Debt Financing Program with a Twist

Dominion Energy, a huge company that not only is a “local” utility providing gas and electric through much of the Marcellus/Utica region, but also a midstream (pipeline) company and the builder/operator of the Cove Point LNG export facility, is launching what looks to be a slightly different twist on using OPM–other people’s money–to finance operations. Disclaimer: We’re not high finance experts. It seems to us that Dominion’s new debt financing program, called “Dominion Energy Reliability Investment,” is not the typical way of selling a bunch of notes (IOUs) as others have done. With Dominion’s program, just launched, investors can invest from $1,000 up to $1.25 million at any time, buying and selling their notes whenever. There are no maintenance fees for investing in the notes program, nor any charges for redemption checks. However, these notes/investments are not insured by the FDIC. Buying these notes is not like investing in a money market fund where your investment is insured. However, we seriously doubt there’s any risk of Dominion defaulting. Here’s what Dominion says about their new debt financing program…
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Despite Court Ruling, Atlantic Coast Pipeline Continues Construction

In May MDN told you that the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals had invalidated (vacated) a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that allows Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) to accidentally kill a few bats and bumble bees (classified as endangered) as it builds the massive $6.5 billion, 600-mile project from West Virginia to North Carolina (see U.S. Fourth Circuit Court Vacates Key Permit for Atlantic Coast Pipe). The Sierra Club and several other radical, far-left groups were behind the court case that led to the decision. However, as it turns out, the decision doesn’t really hurt the project all that much. The vacated permit isn’t so “key” after all. Of the 600 or so miles of pipeline getting built, the vacated permit from Fish and Wildlife only affects about 10 miles of pipeline (see Only 10 Miles of Atlantic Coast Pipeline Affected by Court Ruling). The radicals are back, not happy that only 10 miles of pipeline is idled for now. In a “but, but, but, but, but” request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the antis argue FERC should shut down the whole enchilada–because they don’t like having just 10 miles shut down. Meanwhile, Dominion keeps up steady-and-sure construction of the project. It’s getting built, even as you read this…
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Cove Point LNG Shutting Down for Maintenance This Fall

Cove Point LNG, built by Dominion Energy, began exporting Marcellus Shale gas in April (see First-Ever Shipment of Marcellus LNG Leaves Cove Point, Maryland). Even though it’s only been up and running for about two months, there’s already talk of shutting Cove Point down. You may recall that two countries have contracted for all of the exported LNG coming from Cove Point: India and Japan (see Dominion’s Cove Point LNG Facility Achieves Important Milestones). Dominion Energy CEO Tom Farrell is currently visiting Japan to commemorate the first two shipments of Marcellus LNG arriving there. Yesterday Farrell shared that although Cove Point is doing just fine, the plant will undergo “brief maintenance” of “a few weeks” in the autumn. Scheduled downtime. Does that mean LNG will quit flowing out of the facility each day? According to Farrell, it “depends” on how full the storage tanks are ahead of the planned downtime…
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Only 10 Miles of Atlantic Coast Pipeline Affected by Court Ruling

Last week MDN told you that the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals had invalidated (vacated) a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that allows Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) to accidentally kill a few bats and bumble bees (classified as endangered) as it builds the massive $6.5 billion, 600-mile project from West Virginia to North Carolina (see U.S. Fourth Circuit Court Vacates Key Permit for Atlantic Coast Pipe). The Sierra Club and several other radical, far-left groups were behind the court case that led to the decision. However, as it turns out, the decision doesn’t really hurt the project all that much. The vacated permit isn’t so “key” after all. Of the 600 or so miles of pipeline getting built, the vacated permit from Fish and Wildlife only affects about 10 miles of pipeline. A nothingburger. Dominion continues to build ACP and the 10 miles of affected construction will get done after Fish and Wildlife redoes the paperwork to the court’s liking. Antis are furious (as they always are), claiming the court ruling shuts down all construction. Not so. Construction continues, despite antis’ moaning and groaning…
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First Marcellus Molecules from Cove Point Arrive in Japan

On April 22, the LNG tanker Sakura left Dominion Energy’s Cove Point LNG export facility loaded with Marcellus molecules, heading for Japan (see Cove Point LNG Ships First Marcellus Cargo to Japan). It was the second-ever load of Marcellus molecules to depart the Cove Point facility. About a week later the ship transited the Panama Canal (see 1st Cove Point Marcellus Shipment to Japan Goes Thru Panama Canal). On Monday, the Sakura finally docked at the Negishi LNG terminal in Japan, closing the loop on the first of many such shipments of Marcellus gas that will go to the Land of the Rising Sun…
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FERC Becomes Political as Seen in Rehearing Vote on NY Project

Has someone “gotten” to FERC Commissioners Cheryl LaFleur and Richard Glick–told them, “You vote against these pipeline projects or you don’t have a future in the Democrat Party”? That’s the thought we increasingly have as we watch the two sitting Democrats on FERC repeatedly vote against projects that in some cases they previously voted to approve. What makes someone like LaFleur flip and change her vote on something that two years ago she was 100% on board with? Something has to explain it! Two and a half years ago LaFleur, then a member of FERC, voted to approve Dominion Energy’s $165 million New Market Project, a project that expands Dominion’s transmission pipeline from western New York across the state to the Capital Region of the state, near Albany (see FERC Approves Expansion of Dominion Pipeline in Upstate NY). The radical leftist group Otsego 2000 challenged the project, asking FERC to reconsider its approval, using mythical man-made global warming as a new criteria to reject the project. Last Friday the three Republicans FERC commissioners voted “no” to reconsider the New Market Project, but LaFleur and Chuck Schumer-appointed Richard Glick (both Dems) voted to reconsider, citing global warming concerns. Again, we wonder if someone has gotten to them. A sad day that FERC is longer a non-partisan group…
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U.S. Fourth Circuit Court Vacates Key Permit for Atlantic Coast Pipe

Disgusting and frustrating. That’s our reaction to a decision by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that invalidates (vacates) a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that allows Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) to accidentally kill a few bats and bumble bees (classified as endangered) as it builds the massive $6.5 billion, 600-mile project from West Virginia to North Carolina. The Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and Virginia Wilderness Committee (all radical left organizations) previously sued in federal court asking the court to stop work on ACP until the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission makes a decision on whether or not to “rehear” their decision to approve the project in the first place. In March, the court declined to stop work on ACP (see Fed Court Dismisses Anti Lawsuit to Stop Atlantic Coast Pipeline). However, as part of the effort to stop ACP, Sierra Club, et al also asked the court to invalidate a key permit by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which the court did do on Tuesday. Sierra Club is now demanding that the court revisit its decision about whether to stop all work on the pipeline. In the meantime, work does continue. Dominion says while it’s disappointed in the decision and will have to get a new, more specific permit from Fish and Wildlife, in the meantime they’ll continue construction in those (many) places not under the now-invalid permit. That is, most construction will continue. This does not really hamper the project. Not yet anyway. As long as the Fourth Circuit doesn’t shut it all down…
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Atlantic Coast Actual Pipeline Construction Begins in WV

On Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued Dominion Energy permission to begin construction of the actual pipeline for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project–in West Virginia. ACP is a (now) $6.5 billion project, up from a projected $5 billion due to delays from regulatory agencies and frivolous lawsuits filed by Big Green groups, that will run from WV through Virginia and into North Carolina–almost to the border with South Carolina. Until now FERC had allowed prep work, like tree cutting. But now actual pipeline construction can begin, which is a momentous occasion, worthy of celebration!…
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Atlantic Coast Pipe Radicals Threaten Duke Energy CEO at Her Home

Protesting something like a pipeline is one thing. March around, show your signs, talk to the press, make a horse’s rear-end of yourself. Whatever. But showing up at someone’s home and blocking their driveway and erecting a 20-foot tall tower and refusing to move until arrested? That’s something else. That kind of “protest” is threatening, menacing behavior. Bullying. And it’s all too easy for people who have crossed that line to tip over into outright violence. A group of criminal protesters did just what we described–blocked the driveway and erected a wall in the driveway–of Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good at her home in Charlotte, NC on Wednesday. Duke is partners with Dominion Energy in the $6.5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project, a natural gas pipeline from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. The criminal protesters showed up at Good’s home to oppose the project. The signs they carried revealed their irrational hatred of fossil fuels, which is what motivated them to protest in the first place. Wackos. Here’s how it went down at Good’s home earlier this week…
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FERC Rejects Rehearing Request from Antis re MVP, ACP Projects

Last September a group of 57 gentry landowners in Virginia and West Virginia, backed by an out-of-state Big Green group, sued the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in an attempt to gut the 80-year old Natural Gas Act that gives FERC the right to grant eminent domain for pipeline projects (see VA, WV Landowners Sue FERC re Pipelines, Seek to Gut Natural Gas Act). Specifically, the colluding landowners oppose Dominion’s $5 billion, 594-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina, and EQT’s $3.5 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline project, a 303-mile pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA. The frivolous lawsuit, titled BOLD ALLIANCE, et al. v. FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION, et al., was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, which was the wrong court. Only FERC has jurisdiction over the projects and decisions about whether or not they can get built. If a supposedly aggrieved party disagrees with FERC’s decisions, they must first file for a rehearing, and if FERC still refuses, THEN the supposedly aggrieved party can file a lawsuit ONLY with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The suers, Big Green group Bold Alliance, filed for a rehearing with FERC. Bold Alliance tried to sidestep the law by moving forward with a lawsuit prematurely. However, the really big no-no is that they filed in U.S. District Court for DC, NOT the Court of Appeals for DC. Big difference. Here’s “the rest of the story”…last Friday FERC rejected Bold Alliance’s request for a rehearing for both MVP and ACP. So we expect the next step is that Bold Alliance will now file an appeal with the correct court, the DC Court of Appeals…
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Dominion Energy 1Q18: Important Updates on Key Projects

Late last week Dominion Energy issued its first quarter 2018 financial and operational update. Dominion is not only a large utility company (electric and gas), but also a huge pipeline company. Dominion has it’s fingers in a lot of Marcellus/Utica pies, so we like to keep track of the company and what it says about various critical projects for our region. Dominion CEO Tom Farrell had a lot of interesting updates, including updates for: Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a $6.5 billion Dominion pipeline from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina; Cove Point, the $4 billion LNG export facility that began commercial operations in April; Greensville County (VA) Power Station, a $1.3 billion natural gas-fired combined cycle power plant; and the proposed merger with SCANA Corporation, the main electric and gas company for much of South Carolina. Buckle up, there’s lots of news here…
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1st Cove Point Marcellus Shipment to Japan Goes Thru Panama Canal

LNG Sakura – now on its way to Japan

A sharp MDN reader recently emailed us to ask about that first shipment of Marcellus Shale LNG exported from Cove Point that is heading to Japan, wondering if the ship would transit through the Panama Canal to get to Asia. We had to say we didn’t know! But now we do know. And the answer is “yes”–that ship is going through the Panama Canal. Last week MDN reported that the second shipment of Marcellus molecules from Cove Point had been loaded onto the LNG carrier Sakura, and that the Sakura is heading to Japan (see Cove Point LNG Ships First Marcellus Cargo to Japan). Before June 2016, large LNG carriers could not pass through the Panama Canal. In 2016 new locks were installed to make it possible for larger ships, like the Sakura, to transit through. By using the Panama Canal, ships save an extra 7,800 miles, bypassing a trip around the tip of South America. Since 2016 more than 300 LNG carriers have used the Canal. Here’s the news that the Sakura is already through the Canal and now in the Pacific Ocean, steaming toward Japan…
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