Dominion Power says they’ve made no decision to expand the Atlantic Coast Pipeline into South Carolina. Last week the AP obtained a recording of Dominion executive Dan Weekly telling people at an energy conference that “everybody knows” the pipeline won’t stop in North Carolina.
A spokesman for Dominion says Weekly's comments came in response to a question at the conference about the possibility of future expansion.
Construction on the initial pipeline hasn’t started yet. Dominion is still waiting for final approval from regulators to run natural gas from West Virginia, through Virginia, and end in North Carolina.
93% of the gas has already been spoken for by Dominion Power and Duke Energy. Thomas Hadwin is a former utility executive who’s spoken against the pipeline. He speculates that an expansion into South Carolina could mean the two companies are afraid there isn’t enough demand for the energy in Virginia and North Carolina.
“Dominion and Duke have realized they need far fewer new gas fired power plants than expected when the pipeline was announced in 2014, so they’re looking for additional customers,” suggests Hadwin.
The pipeline isn’t the only unpopular infrastructure related to the project. Plans for a compressor station in Buckingham have also faced heavy resistance. Hadwin says if the pipeline were to expand, more compressor stations would be needed.
“Either in southern North Carolina or northern South Carolina,” he says. “And perhaps another where the pipeline first comes into Virginia to add some more capacity in Bath County.”
Pipeline opponents say the leaked comments show Dominion hasn’t been honest with the public. Dominion insists its focus is on completing the current project.