Thomas F. Farrell column: Powering Virginia's future with clean, affordable, and reliable energy

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Thomas F. Farrell column: Powering Virginia's future with clean, affordable, and reliable energy

The Richmond Times-Dispatch

As the largest public utility in Virginia, our company is responsible for meeting the daily energy needs of millions of Virginians.

Every single day, thousands of Dominion Energy employees show up to work and roll up their sleeves to keep our lights on, power our economy, heat and cool the homes of millions, and power some of our nation’s most critical national security assets.

For generations, we have met Virginia’s energy needs safely, affordably, and reliably. We have done so through hard work, innovation, and making smart investments in the future. We also recognize the urgency of making our energy cleaner and more sustainable for the environment.

Serving millions of Virginians every single day is not an easy task. It requires the ingenuity of our finest engineers and continuous investments in new technology and infrastructure.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a great example of the type of investment it takes to affordably and reliably power Virginia’s homes and businesses, while also making our energy cleaner.

While the project is overwhelmingly supported by the communities where it’s being built, it has encountered opposition. Unfortunately, some of the project’s opponents are misleading the public about basic facts. Regardless of where you stand, facts should always matter. So let’s take a look at the facts about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline:

• Natural gas has three primary uses that serve millions of Virginians every single day — home heating, manufacturing, and cleaner electricity as we move away from coal. Virginia needs new pipeline infrastructure to serve all three of these uses. Demand for natural gas is growing, but our existing pipelines are stretched too thin to keep up with demand.

• The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will save consumers money on their natural gas and electricity bills. In recent winters the pipelines serving our region were stretched so thin consumers had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in higher energy bills. It’s the simple law of supply and demand. When demand is greater than supply, consumers pay higher prices. With the Atlantic Coast Pipeline bringing new supplies of lower-cost natural gas to Virginia, consumers will no longer see their bills spike every winter.

• The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will improve the reliability of electricity and natural gas service for all Virginians. Utilities shouldn’t have to choose between heating homes and powering businesses, but that’s exactly the choice they’ve had to make in recent winters. The pipelines serving our region were so constrained, utilities had to shut off service to hundreds of businesses just to keep homes and hospitals warm. With the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in place, they will no longer be forced to make that choice.

• The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will reduce air emissions and improve Virginia’s environment. One of the main purposes of the project is to replace coal with cleaner natural gas. Natural gas produces half the carbon emissions of coal and 80 to 90 percent less sulfur and nitrogen — the main causes of air pollution. Some opponents falsely claim that methane emissions from natural gas outweigh the benefits of lower carbon. They’re wrong for two reasons: First, the industry has slashed pipeline leaks by more than 90 percent over the past three decades, in large part by investing in new facilities like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline; and second, natural gas produces less than half the total lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of coal. That includes all greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, and includes emissions from every stage of the lifecycle — from drilling and pipelines to the end use in homes, power plants, and factories.

• We are building this project with the strongest environmental and safety protections ever used by the industry, and we are receiving more regulatory scrutiny than any other infrastructure project in Virginia history. These protections are working. We are preserving the streams and rivers, and we are protecting the fish and wildlife. The pipeline will have multiple, overlapping layers of protection to prevent leaks and other damage. Like the thousands of miles of other underground pipelines that have operated across Virginia for many decades, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will safely co-exist with communities and the environment.

These are the facts about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. When combined with the historic investments we’re making in solar and offshore wind, we are transforming the way we serve our customers by making our energy cleaner, more reliable, and more affordable. These are the smart decisions and investments it takes to power the economy and the daily lives of millions of people in an environmentally sustainable way.

Read the full article and more in The Richmond Times-Dispatch.


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