Natural Gas Pipelines in Virginia: Expanding the Transmission Network After Fracking

natural gas pipelines move gas from areas of excess supply to areas with sufficient customer demand
natural gas pipelines move gas from areas of excess supply to areas with sufficient customer demand
Source: Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, 2018 Virginia Energy Plan (Figure 14, p.51)

Starting in the 1990's, the development of the fracking process for "tight gas" formations led to a dramatic increase in the supply of natural gas from domestic resources. The Marcellus and Utica shale formation on the western edge of the Appalachians provided a major increase in supply for the urban markets on the East Coast, triggering plans for new pipelines acoss Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia.

as the natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica basins was developed through fracking, new pipelines were constructed to transport the gas to customers
as the natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica basins was developed through fracking, new pipelines were constructed to transport the gas to customers
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, New pipeline projects increase Northeast natural gas takeaway capacity

New pipelines were also needed to supply natural gas to new electrical generating plants, built in rural areas where large blocks of land could be purchased at low cost and power plant emissions would not violate Clean Air Act standards.

In 2003 East Tennessee Natural Gas (at that time partially owned by Duke Energy, and now by Spectra) built the Patriot Extension, a 24-inch (diameter) pipeline bringing natural gas from the main trunkline in Wythe County southeast into North Carolina. The Patriot Extension was expected to provide fuel to new power plants. Several were cancelled, including one by Dominion in North Carolina, one by Duke Energy at Austinville, and one planned by Cogentrix in Henry County.

There were still enough commitments to purchase gas over the next 25 years, from local gas delivery companies and other power plants, to justify approval of the 94-mile Patriot Extension by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The decisions to abandon plans for new power plants did cause Dominion Power to cancel its proposed Greenbrier pipeline, which was planned to go through southwestern Virginia from Giles to Henry counties.1

Spectra's East Tennessee Natural Gas pipeline carries gas into southwestern Virginia
Spectra's East Tennessee Natural Gas pipeline carries gas into southwestern Virginia
Source: Spectra Energy, East Tennessee Natural Gas

Transco built its own pipeline extension, the Virginia Southside Expansion, in 2015. That new 24-inch pipeline, parallel to an existing 20-inch pipeline, extended service 100 miles eastward from the compressor station known as Transco Station 165 in Pittsylvania County.

The Virginia Southside Expansion supplied gas to Dominion Power's new 1,300-megawatt electricity generating plant in Brunswick County. Dominion also relied upon Transco to bring natural gas to new electricity generating plants in Buckingham, Fauquier, Hanover, and Warren counties.2

the Virginia Southside Expansion pipeline (red line on map) allowed Transco to bring natural gas from Transco Station 165 in Pittsylvania County to a gas-fired power plant (#4 on map) constructed by Dominion in Brunswick County, 100 miles to the east
the Virginia Southside Expansion pipeline (red line on map) allowed Transco to bring natural gas from Transco Station 165 in Pittsylvania County to a gas-fired power plant (#4 on map) constructed by Dominion in Brunswick County, 100 miles to the east
Source: The Williams Companies, Overview Map, Virginia Southside Expansion Project

After Dominion committed to build another natural gas-fired electric generation facility in Greensville County, Transco proposed to extend the Virginia Southside Expansion pipeline an additional four miles. That Phase II extension, known as the Greensville Lateral, would provide gas to the new 1,580-megawatt power plant.

Phase II of the Virginia Southside Expansion pipeline would extend the pipeline four miles, so Transco could provide natural gas via the Greensville Lateral (purple line on map) to a second gas-fired power plant to be constructed by Dominion in Greensville County (5 on map)
Phase II of the Virginia Southside Expansion pipeline would extend the pipeline four miles, so Transco could provide natural gas via the Greensville Lateral (purple line on map) to a second gas-fired power plant to be constructed by Dominion in Greensville County (5 on map)
Source: The Williams Companies, Overview Map, Virginia Southside Expansion Project

In 2014, pipeline companies announced three competing plans to bring Appalachian Basin shale gas to markets in Virginia and North Carolina. EQT Midstream Partners and NextEra Energy proposed the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Transco (Williams) championed the Appalachian Connector, and a partnership controlled by Dominion and Duke Energy was behind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project.

the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline were proposed to bring natural gas from the Marcellus fields to southern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and North Carolina
the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline were proposed to bring natural gas from the Marcellus fields to southern Virginia, Hampton Roads, and North Carolina
Source: Appalachian Voices, Pipe Dreams: The push to expand natural gas infrastructure

Building pipelines to deliver the new supply of gas to customers on the east side of the Appalachians requires identifying enough customers along a particular route to justify the investment. Between initial announcement and formally filing a route proposal with Federal/state agencies that must approve a project, pipeline companies revise the route in response to community objections and to avoid sensitive environmental/cultural areas. All announced projects create angst within the communities and rural areas which might be disrupted by construction and limitations on use of land above the buried pipeline.

the Mountain Valley Pipeline would enter Virgnia at Peters Mountain in Giles County on the West Virginia-Virginia border, and end at Transco Station 165 in Pittsylvania County
the Mountain Valley Pipeline would enter Virginia at Peters Mountain in Giles County on the West Virginia-Virginia border, and end at Transco Station 165 in Pittsylvania County
Source: Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, Atlantic Coast Pipeline - Environmental Mapping System

The Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Appalachian Connector have a fixed end point. The pipelines would be built from roughly the same location in West Virginia to the same destination, the compressor station known as Transco Station 165 on the existing Transco pipeline in Pittsylvania County. The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline would cross the existing Transco trunk line further north.

the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Appalachian Connector would connect at Transco Station 165 to maximize access to a wide range of potential customers, but the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (owned primarily by Dominion and Duke Energy) would take a more-direct path to service Dominion and Duke Energy power plants in southeastern Virginia and North Carolina
the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Appalachian Connector would connect at Transco Station 165 to maximize access to a wide range of potential customers, but the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (owned primarily by Dominion and Duke Energy) would take a more-direct path to service Dominion and Duke Energy power plants in southeastern Virginia and North Carolina
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online

The companies proposing the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Appalachian Connector are competitors. The two pipelines would serve different buyers initially, and both must have enough commitments from initial customers to purchase the natural gas before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will approve construction - but after the first contracts expire, the pipelines could be rivals. Both companies have rejected proposals to bury two separate 42-inch diameter pipelines in one common right-of-way.3

Using a common energy corridor would minimize impacts on landowners and the environment, but exacerbate competition. In the western states, where Federal lands were being affected by a series of energy transportation projects, the Bureau of Land Management has defined in advance the appropriate paths for electrical transmission lines and gas/petroleum pipelines.

in western states, companies choosing routes for new pipelines start with the pre-defined corridors established by the Federal government
in western states, companies choosing routes for new pipelines start with the pre-defined corridors established by the Federal government
Source: Bureau of Land Management, Eleven-State Map of Proposed Energy Corridors: 8 ½" x 11" format

Some of the right-of-way for the failed Greenbrier project was proposed for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. That project would link shale gas production fields in West Virginia with customers in southern Virginia and perhaps North Carolina.

Public opposition to the Mountain Valley Pipeline developed quickly. It would create a cleared area as much as 75-feet wide through farms and forests in Giles, Pulaski, Montgomery, Floyd, Franklin and Henry counties on the way to a connection with the Transco pipeline in Pittsylvania County.

the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, to connect Marcellus and Utica natural gas supply to markets in the Southeastern United States, was revised from this original route to avoid Floyd county
the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, to connect Marcellus and Utica natural gas supply to markets in the Southeastern United States, was revised from this original route to avoid Floyd county
Source: EQT Corporation, EQT and NextEra Energy Announce Southeast Pipeline Project

the revised route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline avoided Floyd County
the revised route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline avoided Floyd County
Source: Mountain Valley Pipeline

Access to natural gas helps retain jobs, and Mohawk Industries stayed in Carroll County after the Patriot Pipeline provided low-cost energy. Floyd County still opposed the Mountain Valley Pipeline, in part because the pipeline's proposed right-of-way through the county was far from the business parks in the county where industries might locate. The pipeline planners reacted to the county's opposition and moved the proposed route north, proposing to cross Roanoke County instead of Floyd County.4

The owner of the Transco pipeline (Williams Companies) proposed to build the Appalachian Connector, which was originally named the Western Marcellus Pipeline. It would go from West Virginia, travel through Virginia north of Roanoke, and end at the Transco compressor station 165 near Chatham. The Appalachian Connector pipeline project could transport gas from the Marcellus shale region as far south as Florida. The additional supply from the Appalachian fields could meet the needs of customers in the Southeast, allowing gas from the Gulf Coast gas to be redirected for export via Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) tankers.5

the Appalachian Corridor, originally named the Western Marcellus Pipeline, was proposed by the owner of the Transco pipeline to carry gas south
the Appalachian Corridor, originally named the Western Marcellus Pipeline, was proposed by the owner of the Transco pipeline to carry gas south
Source: Western Marcellus Pipeline Project

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline initially was a $2 billion project called the Dominion Southeast Reliability Project It was proposed by Dominion Energy to transport shale gas produced from the Marcellus/Utica formations to Dominion's power plants and other customers.

Duke Energy joined as a partner with an initial 40% share in the project. That utility has old coal-fired power plants in North Carolina to replace, and plans to burn more gas and less coal in its new facilities. The project then grew into a $5 billion proposal to construct a 42-inch, 450-mile pipeline from West Virginia to supply Dominion and Duke Energy power plants in Virginia and North Carolina.

the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline included two compressor stations in Virginia
the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline included two compressor stations in Virginia
Source: Atlantic Coast Pipeline

The route would pass through Virginia between Highland and Greensville counties. A 20-inch connection would extend delivery to Hampton Roads for distribution to customers by Virginia Natural Gas. After the pipeline was proposed, two gas-fired power plants were proposed for Charles City County. Merchant power companies, competitors to Dominion Power, proposed the 1,060-MW C4GT power plant and the larger, 1,650MW Chickahominy Power Station. They would be major consumers of the increased gas supply, increasing generation capacity to match the increased demand coming from data centers in the area. The State Corporation Commission had to issue each facility a certificate of public convenience and necessity, but not rates. Price of the electricity would be determined through competitive sales into the PJM grid.6

the proposed C4GT power plant in Charles City County (red X) would rely upon new gas supply from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline
the proposed C4GT power plant in Charles City County (red X) would rely upon new gas supply from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline
Source: Google Maps

The parent company of Virginia Natural Gas (AGL Resources, which became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southern Company in 2016) signed on as a 5% partner in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. (By 2016, Dominion Power owned 48% of the proposed pipeline, Duke Energy had the remaining 47%.) An extension to South Hampton Roads from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would create an alternative source to the current Columbia Gas transmission pipeline that supplies South Hampton Roads. The competition might result in lower transmission costs for Virginia Natural Gas.7

the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline would carry shale gas through Highland County to Greensville County, with an extension to south Hampton Roads
the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline would carry shale gas through Highland County to Greensville County, with an extension to south Hampton Roads
Source: Dominion, Atlantic Coast Pipeline

by 2016, Dominion had adjusted the route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline
by 2016, Dominion had adjusted the route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline
Source: Dominion, Atlantic Coast Pipeline- Maps

the Atlantic Coast Pipeline proposed to cross the Blue Ridge near the resort community of Wintergreen
the Atlantic Coast Pipeline proposed to cross the Blue Ridge near the resort community of Wintergreen
Source: Dominion, Maps by County - High-resolution Aerial Maps

Virginia Natural Gas could not justify building a new pipeline east from the Transco trunk pipeline to serve just the company's customers. At the same time, it lacked enough capacity to attract new industrial users. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline project was different, because other companies would pay most of the transportation costs. As a 5% partner, the economic burden to increase the supply of natural gas in Hampton Roads was substantially reduced.

Virginia Natural Gas officials had considered alternatives, including building parallel pipelines next to Dominion and Columbia's existing pipelines. Bacon's Rebellion blog quoted Jim Kibler, president of the company:8

The beauty of the ACP [Atlantic Coast Pipeline] is that we're able to aggregate our load with those other customers, and the result is far more economical than any of the alternatives we explored in the past... We don’t have any other options... We’ve explored Columbia and Dominion but those vintage pipelines are not easily expanded. You can’t simply add compressors. You have to twin them [laying down a parallel pipe] and those rights of way are too narrow.

The environmental impacts triggered opposition, especially in the karst regions of the Shenandoah Valley and where the pipeline would cross Blue Ridge. The pipeline would cut through sensitive natural habitats and cultural areas, including the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway.

the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would cross limestone bedrock with karst features (shaded light blue) in the Valley and Ridge physiographic province
the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would cross limestone bedrock with karst features (shaded light blue) in the Valley and Ridge physiographic province
Source: Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, Atlantic Coast Pipeline - Environmental Mapping System

the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would require multiple stream crossings (shown as orange balls), including the James River
the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would require multiple stream crossings (shown as orange balls), including the James River
Source: Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, Atlantic Coast Pipeline - Environmental Mapping System

the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was routed across the Blue Ridge to avoid areas protected by conservation easements, or designated as wilderness or special biological areas, but still had to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail
the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was routed across the Blue Ridge to avoid areas protected by conservation easements, or designated as wilderness or special biological areas, but still had to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail
Source: Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, Atlantic Coast Pipeline - Environmental Mapping System

Opponents feared the US Forest Service would decide to minimize future opposition to new powerline and gas transmission lines by defining the route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, Atlantic Coast Pipeline, or both as a Designated Utility Corridor. A right of way up to 1,000-feet wide through the Jefferson National Forest would reduce the number of areas impacted by energy transmission projects, but increase the impact in the one designated area.9

the Jefferson National Forest defined the location of a Designated Utility Corridor (red line) in 2004
the Jefferson National Forest defined the location of a Designated Utility Corridor (red line) in 2004
Source: US Forest Service, :Final Environmental Impact Statement - Land and Resource Management Plan," Alternative I: Management Prescriptions (North Half)

If the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is completed, natural gas piped to eastern Virginia from the Gulf Coast would face significant competition from gas produced by fracking in the Appalachian Basin. Once its contracts with Transco expired, Dominion could use gas from Ohio rather than from Louisiana/Texas to supply its power plants in Buckingham, Brunswick, and Greensville counties.

The demand for natural gas in southern states peaks in the summer, when air conditioning is in common use. The demand for natural gas in the north peaks in the winter, when interior spaces are heated. The price of natural gas transported north from the Gulf of Mexico drops in the summer. The price of gas produced in the Marcellus Basin, which would be carried south by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline, drops in the winter. One justification for the new pipelines was to increase competition by connecting a new source of gas, allowing Virginia and North Carolina customers to get better prices.

Neither Duke Energy nor Dominion makes a profit on the fuel used to create electricity. As the costs of gas, coal, and other shift, the rates charged to customers are adjusted up or down. The fuel rate adjustment insulates the utilities from price spikes triggered by oil embargoes or other causes which utilities can not control, while ensuring that customers get savings when the costs of energy supplies drop.

If the utilities could purchase natural gas at lower prices, they could still benefit by lowering prices to industrial customers and selling more electricity. Unlike residential customers, industrial customers have options. If electricity is the low-cost option within the service area of a utility, then existing industries might expand and use more electricity. In addition, costs of electricity is a competitive actor for industrial companies when they choose to relocate or build new facilities.

Owning a gas pipeline could help the parent companies of investor-owned regulated utilities to make a greater profit. The Federal Energy Regulatory Authority (FERC) allows for a higher rate of return on capital invested in interstate pipelines for transporting natural gas, compared to the rate of return allowed by state regulators in Virginia and North Carolina for capital invested in electricity generation and distribution.

The parent companies of Dominion and Duke Energy anticipated making a 14% rate of return from their investment in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline transporting natural gas to their own electricity generating plants. When existing contracts with Transco expire, the utilities will be able to steer payments for transporting natural gas to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Corporate subsidiaries of Dominion, including regulated utilities, committed to purchase 20% of the natural gas to be moved through the pipeline. The State Corporation Commission declined to examine the anticipated costs of that transmission, and declared that the issue would be addressed only when the utility asked for rates to be adjusted. That would occur after the $7 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline was completed.

In 2017 the Sierra Club petitioned the State Corporation Commission to review any contracts between Dominion's different corporate units dealing with transport and purchase of natural gas, to ensure customers do not end up paying excessive prices.10

Opponents to constructing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) suggest that a new pipeline is not needed. Plans by Dominion Power to build new gas-fired generation plants in Southside Virginia would lock in future demand for natural gas transmission, since the State Corporation Commission would add the facilities to the rate base used to set prices that the utility could charge customers for electricity.

Guaranteeing future profits for the holding companies that control both the new pipeline and the new power plants may not be in the public interest. The Southern Environmental Law Center asserted:11

The existing system can deliver 300 million cubic feet (MMcf) per hour to Virginia and the Carolinas. Planned upgrades to one pipeline, and a reversal in flow of another, double that volume...

...This is a system that encourages overbuilding, even when cheaper alternatives like existing pipelines make sense. And it is a system that can trap the region in fossil-fuel dependence even longer.

The pipelines would last 80 years, and with so much time and money poured into them, utilities will have a powerful incentive to thwart meaningful pursuits of renewable energy, like solar power.

The relative cost of the new pipeline vs. use/expansion of existing pipelines is a key economic argument:12

Dominion's own filings with FERC show that Virginia ratepayers would pay over $200 million a year more to ship natural gas via the ACP to Brunswick and Greensville than it costs to use the connection to Transco. It is nearly always cheaper to use existing pipelines compared to building new ones...

...Pipeline tariffs are based primarily on the rate base (the depreciated cost of the pipeline) plus the allowed rate of return. The rate base for a new pipeline is much higher than a nearly fully depreciated one. That is why it is considerably cheaper to transport natural gas using existing pipelines compared to new pipelines.

the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline route through Nelson County was altered after community reaction (red line shows previous proposed routes)
the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline route through Nelson County was altered after community reaction (red line shows previous proposed routes)
Source: Dominion, Interactive Map - Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Opponents also contended that shipping gas to Virginia was not cost-effective, compared to alternatives. Dominion's planned upgrades to its own transmission line bring gas south from Pennsylvania could accommodate some of the growing demand. Those upgrades required new compression capacity, which generated opposition from neighbors in Loudoun County, but did not require clearing a new right-of-way through the Shenandoah Valley and across the Blue Ridge.13

Electricity could be generated from power plants built near the gas fields, then transmitted through the grid to industrial facilities in Hampton Roads. That option would require construction or expansion of overhead power lines, and the utilities would have to deal with public opposition to that new infrastructure. There are no options where everyone will agree.

The basic need for the extra gas to be moved to Virginia via the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was challenged by pipeline opponents. In 2018, the State Corporation Commission rejected the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) submitted by Dominion's utility subsidiary to provide a framework for future investments. It noted that projections for electricity demand (load forecasts) had been "consistently overstated."

The state agency cited the projections by PJM Interconnection, the multi-state Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity. In 2018 PJM predicted a 0.8% compound annual growth rate in peak demand over the next 15 years, while Dominion predicted 1.4%.

An expert witness had testified on this issue a year earlier that the justification for the pipeline depended upon projected increases in demand for electricity, but:14

...even if more gas were needed, other pipeline options were much cheaper than Dominion’s affiliate deals. And, given that Dominion already has contracts with another pipeline company to serve the utility’s existing gas plants, the money paid for capacity in the ACP will be entirely wasted — unless, of course, Dominion builds a bunch of new gas plants or drops lower-priced transportation arrangements in favor of its costly affiliate deals.

Dominion had a clear counter-argument. It claimed that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) was needed in order to diversify the sources of gas to meet current demand. Blogger James Bacon talked to the energy company's executives and reported:15

Every year or two Virginia experiences a deep freeze that spikes demand for natural gas and shoots up the price from $3 to $5 per mcf (thousand cubic feet) to well over $100... Just one of those events can cost Virginia rate payers between $100 million and $150 million. The ACP’s added capacity makes it possible not just to supply more gas but to bring in gas from different gas-producing regions than the current sources of supply.

Opponents of the pipeline tried to block state approval of an air quality permit, which Dominion needed for a compressor station in Buckingham County. The Virginia Air Pollution Control Board delayed its decision in order to assess claims that the preferred location, next to the African-American community of Union Hill, reflected environmental racism and if an alternative location would be feasible.

Dominion claimed the location of Compressr Station #2 (one of three for the pipeline) was necessary because the site was near an intersection with existing natural gas pipeline, and the landowner was willing to sell the needed 68 acres. The Virginia the Department of Environmental Quality recommended approval, and the site was already approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Buckingham Board of Supervisors.

The issue was highly politicized, and drew national attention from activists. The state agency was deciding whether to authorize emissions from one new compressor station, but the fundamental issue was an effort to block the entire 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Just before the initial planned vote, Governor Northam replaced two members on the board who were not reliable supporters of the permit. The uproar ended with an announcement that his replacements would not vote on the issue. After a two-month delay, the Air Pollution Control Board approved the permit on a final 4-0 vote in January, 2019.16

pipeline company's representation of the controversial compressor station in Buckingham County
pipeline company's representation of the cntroversial compressor station in Buckingham County
Source: Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Buckingham Compressor Station

yellow dots mark the locations of the three compressor stations on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline
yellow dots mark the locations of the three compressor stations on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline
Source: Atlantic Coast Pipeline, ACP Construction News

Transco reacted to the possible competition from Dominion and Duke Energy. In addition to the Appalachian Connector, Transco developed a second plan to ship Marcellus gas south. The Atlantic Sunrise pipeline would insert gas from Pennsylvania fields into Transco's trunk pipeline near the Pennsylvania-Maryland border. The extra gas would be piped south, reversing the direction of flow in the pipeline.

Dominion claimed there could be problems with supply due to bi-directional flow with a changing seasonal "null point," where pressure from the north equaled pressure from the south. Ensuring steady pressure to customers was cited as a justification for constructing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.17

Court challenges delayed issuance of permits, and then forced the US Forest Service to revoke authorization to cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. A Federal court also blocked the permit issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Service for "incidental take" of endangered species. That action led to a voluntary suspension of Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction in 2018. By 2019, costs for it had risen to over $7 billion.18

Despite delays in obtaining new permits to cross federally managed land such as the Appalachian Trail, EQM Midstream Partners and other companies financing construction of the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline projected it would be completed to its connection with the Transco pipeline near Danville in 2019. The permit included an alternative route which avoided National Forest land and did not cross the Appalachian Trail.

Builders of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas, were less optimistic about their 600-mile project. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond, had ruled in December 2018 that the U.S. Forest Service had no legal authority to allow the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail, and the pipeline had not identified an alternative route. No pipeline across the trail had ever been authorized previously, and the court quoted Dr. Seuss' The Lorax in its decision:19

This conclusion is particularly informed by the Forest Service's serious environmental concerns that were suddenly, and mysteriously, assuaged in time to meet a private pipeline company's deadlines...

...We trust the United States Forest Service to "speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues."

the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline (red line) would bring Pennsylvania gas south to Virginia, reversing flow in the Transco pipeline
the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline (red line) would bring Pennsylvania gas south to Virginia, reversing flow in the Transco pipeline
Source: Transco, Atlantic Coast Pipeline- Maps

Not every pipeline project that is announced will end up getting built. Some, such as the Greenbrier project, will fail to identify enough long-term customers to justify the high initial cost of building a pipeline.

One proposal to transport Marcellus Shale gas has already been dropped. A fourth proposal to bring Appalachian Plateau gas to power plants in southeastern Virginia and North Carolina was announced in 2014. Spectra Energy indicated that it might build a pipeline through Virginia from Frederick to Mecklenburg counties.

Spectra said it would build through a portion of the land at the historic plantation of President James Madison, Montpelier. However, no formal application was submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). After Duke Energy and Dominion joined together on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to supply their own power plants, Spectra dropped its proposal.20

Spectra's plans to build a gas pipeline across the Blue Ridge and Piedmont in undeveloped areas of Warren, Fauquier, and Rappahannock counties alarmed the Piedmont Environmental Council, but the project was quickly dropped when the expected customers (Dominion and Duke Energy) proposed their own Atlantic Coast Pipeline
Spectra's plans to build a gas pipeline across the Blue Ridge and Piedmont in undeveloped areas of Warren, Fauquier, and Rappahannock counties alarmed the Piedmont Environmental Council, but the project was quickly dropped when the expected customers (Dominion and Duke Energy) proposed their own Atlantic Coast Pipeline
Source: Piedmont Environmental Council, Maps of the Spectra Energy Gas Pipeline Proposal

In 2018, Williams announce plans for the "Southeastern Trail Expansion Project," to increase the capacity of the Transco pipeline to move gas south to customers in Georgia. The company had already expanded its ability to transport gas in Pennsylvania, with the Atlantic Sunrise and Leidy Southeast projects. The Southeastern Trail Expansion Project propose expanding compressor capacity at three stations in Virginia, and building a 42" pipeline "loop" in Prince William and Fauquier counties.21

Compressor Station 185 on the Transco Pipeline is located south of I-66 near Manassas
Compressor Station 185 on the Transco Pipeline is located south of I-66 near Manassas
Source: Transcontinental Gas Pipeline application for Manassas Loop, Maps of the Spectra Energy Gas Pipeline Proposal (Drawing F-MANA-D-TM-01)

On the Eastern Shore, the Delmarva Pipeline Company proposed a new pipeline in 2017. The gas would come from the Transco pipeline at or near Gate 196, and the new ppeline would transport it south through Maryland into Accomack County. The "No Eastern Shore Pipeline" group feared it might provide natural gas for a new electrical generating station to be located near Denton, Maryland.

Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company then announced a competing proposal to expand its existing pipeline network on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The expansion could tap into three major transmission pipelines near the Maryland-Pennsylvania border, and the Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company network would be extended from Salisbury, Maryland south all the way into Northampton County.22

The proposed new pipelines could deliver gas from the Gulf Coast or from the Marcellus Basin, since the new supply from fracking was creating more price competition.

Natural Gas Pipelines in Virginia

Oil Pipelines in Virginia

Natural Gas Resources in Virginia

Natural Gas Storage in Virginia

Delmarva Pipeline Company proposed a new pipeline south into Accomack County in 2017
Delmarva Pipeline Company proposed a new pipeline south into Accomack County in 2017
Source: Delmarva Pipeline Company, Open Season Notice for Firm Service, August 21st, 2017 – October 22nd, 2017

in 2018, Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company proposed to pipe natural gas as far as Northampton County
in 2018, Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company proposed to pipe natural gas as far as Northampton County
Source: Eastern Shore Natural Gas, Market Hub Services & Pipeline Expansion

pipeline opponents offered a simple message
pipeline opponents offered a simple message
Source: No Eastern Shore Pipeline, Digital Tools

Links

Dominion revised the proposed route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to minimize conflicts, but the route still crossed the George Washington National Forest and Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
Dominion revised the proposed route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to minimize conflicts, but the route still crossed the George Washington National Forest and Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
Source: Dominion, Proposed Route Map - Atlantic Coast Pipeline

References

1. "Duke: Plant Delays, Cancellations Won't Impact Patriot Extension," Natural Gas Intelligence, August 18, 2003, http://www.naturalgasintel.com/articles/9731-duke-plant-delays-cancellations-won-t-impact-patriot-extension; "Pipeline Battle," Winston-Salem Journal, January 20, 2003, republished by Duke Energy Employee Advocate, http://www.dukeemployees.com/duke1-03.shtml; "Duke Energy delays construction of Wythe County plant," The Roanoke Times, August 8, 2003, republished in safepipelines Yahoo discussion group, http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/safepipelines/message/3073 (last checked July 16, 2015)
2. "Virginia Southside Expansion," Williams (Transco), http://co.williams.com/expansionprojects/virginia-southside-expansion-2/ (last checked July 16, 2015)
3. "Natural gas pipeline discussion considers combining routes," The Roanoke Times, July 29, 2015, http://www.roanoke.com/news/virginia/natural-gas-pipeline-discussion-considers-combining-routes/article_300b53cf-5868-50f6-9600-5acb027e76ac.html; "Our view: The big picture on pipelines," The Roanoke Times, July 5, 2015, http://www.roanoke.com/opinion/editorials/our-view-the-big-picture-on-pipelines/article_5401cd7c-7f35-5dd7-b74c-43e4bdcd0455.html (last checked July 30, 2015)
4. "Natural gas pipeline plan riles Floyd County," The Roanoke Times, August 13, 2014, http://www.roanoke.com/news/local/floyd_county/natural-gas-pipeline-plan-riles-floyd-county/article_3914934b-b5a1-5c4a-8f7d-d0a04fd5e74a.html; "Boon or bust? Proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline might spur jobs — but at what cost?," The Roanoke Times, September 21, 2014, http://www.roanoke.com/business/news/boon-or-bust-proposed-mountain-valley-pipeline-might-spur-jobs/article_7e53f56b-eaaa-5aa0-a22e-bd4c496bc858.html; "New route for gas pipeline avoids Floyd County, passes through Roanoke County," The Roanoke Times, October 7, 2014, http://www.roanoke.com/news/local/floyd_county/new-route-for-gas-pipeline-avoids-floyd-county-passes-through/article_bc898e3c-90f1-52cb-8968-58af7fb0f1cf.html; "Group rallies opposition to gas pipeline through Floyd County," The Roanoke Times, August 15, 2014, http://www.roanoke.com/news/local/floyd_county/floyd-county-residents-gear-up-for-pipeline-battle/article_33adf57f-e7e6-5423-9ec3-9f6f7c3f273f.html (last checked October 31, 2014)
5. "Williams Announces Open Season for Transco Western Marcellus Pipeline Project," Williams Partners L.P news release, September 4, 2014, http://www.williamslp.com/profiles/investor/ResLibraryView.asp?ResLibraryID=72278&BzID=1296&g=345&Nav=0&LangID=1&s=0; "Western Marcellus Pipeline is 3rd seeking passage through Va.," The Roanoke Times, October 30, 2014, http://www.roanoke.com/news/local/western-marcellus-pipeline-is-rd-seeking-passage-through-va/article_d6072f0c-900e-5fe6-a26b-081863a8a839.html (last checked October 31, 2014)
6. "Gas-fired power plant proposed for Charles City County," Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 27, 2016, https://www.richmond.com/business/gas-fired-power-plant-proposed-for-charles-city-county/article_6078be49-0275-549a-801b-b1709d6dbef9.html; "Data Centers Spark VA Power Drive," Commercial Property Executive, July 18, 2018, https://www.cpexecutive.com/post/data-centers-spark-va-power-drive/ (last checked March 19, 2019)
7. "Natural gas pipeline through 5 Virginia counties is considered," The Roanoke Times, May 27, 2014, http://www.roanoke.com/news/natural-gas-pipeline-through-virginia-counties-is-considered/article_8b814f3c-e614-11e3-a267-001a4bcf6878.html; "Atlantic Coast Pipeline," Dominion, https://www.dom.com/business/gas-transmission/atlantic-coast-pipeline/index.jsp; "$5B natural gas pipeline may run through Virginia," The Virginian-Pilot, September 3, 2014, http://hamptonroads.com/node/727552"Dominion Generation," Dominion Resources, https://www.dom.com/about/stations/index.jsp; "Dominion retains controlling share in pipeline company in restructuring after Piedmont sale," Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 3, 2016, http://www.richmond.com/business/local/article_fd7bb234-0fc5-5351-8cea-b2f867fdde7a.html (last checked October 13, 2016)
8. "A Matter of Public Necessity," Bacon's Rebellion, September 22, 2016, http://www.baconsrebellion.com/2016/09/a-matter-of-public-necessity.html#more-36143 (last checked September 23, 2016)
9. "Watchdogs fear Forest Service amendments could yield regional 'pipeline alley,'" The Roanoke Times, November 1, 2016, http://www.roanoke.com/business/watchdogs-fear-forest-service-amendments-could-yield-regional-pipeline-alley/article_6c1b5778-7deb-5ba0-a33b-4e44bf23af8e.html; "Revised Land and Resource Management Plan," US Forest Service, George Washington National Forest, November 2014, p.2-21, http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3822820.pdf (last checked November 2, 2016)
10. "Sierra Club files petition with SCC seeking Affiliates Act review before Dominion commits to Atlantic Coast Pipeline deal," Power For the People blog, May 8, 2017, https://powerforthepeopleva.com/2017/05/08/sierra-club-files-petition-with-scc-seeking-affiliates-act-review-before-dominion-commits-to-atlantic-coast-pipeline-deal/; "What’s up with the SCC and gas?," Virginia Mercury, December 14, 2018, https://www.virginiamercury.com/2018/12/14/scc-finally-asks-dominion-about-pipeline-costs-in-a-footnote/ (last checked December 14, 2018)
11. "Buppert: Experts find pipelines aren't needed," The Roanoke Times, October 9, 2016, http://www.roanoke.com/opinion/commentary/buppert-experts-find-pipelines-aren-t-needed/article_28eb3f99-8040-58b1-b8e1-288935b66acb.html (last checked November 2, 2016)
12. comments by TomH, "A Matter of Public Necessity," Bacon's Rebellion, September 22, 2016, http://www.baconsrebellion.com/2016/09/a-matter-of-public-necessity.html#more-36143 (last checked September 23, 2016)
13. "Environmental groups rally in opposition to Dominion’s expansion plans at Loudoun Compressor Station," Loudoun Times-Mirror, October 27, 2016, http://www.loudountimes.com/news/article/environmental_groups_rally_in_opposition_to_dominions_expansion_plans_at_lo (last checked November 2, 2016)
14. "What’s up with the SCC and gas?," Virginia Mercury, December 14, 2018, https://www.virginiamercury.com/2018/12/14/scc-finally-asks-dominion-about-pipeline-costs-in-a-footnote/; "In first, Virginia regulators reject Dominion Integrated Resource Plan," Utility Dive, December 10, 2018, https://www.utilitydive.com/news/in-first-virginia-regulators-reject-dominion-integrated-resource-plan/543988/ (last checked December 14, 2018)
15. James Bacon, "Dominion Energy: No More Mister Nice Guy," Bacon's Rebellion, December 15, 2018, https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/dominion-energy-no-more-mister-nice-guy/ (last checked December 15, 2018)
16. "Virginia regulators approve permit for pipeline compressor station," Washington Post, January 8, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/virginia-regulators-approve-permit-for-pipeline-compressor-station/2019/01/08/dd6e3ab0-12d5-11e9-803c-4ef28312c8b9_story.html; "Air board unanimously approves Buckingham compressor permit," The Virginia Mercury, January 8, 2019, https://www.virginiamercury.com/2019/01/08/air-board-unanimously-approves-buckingham-compressor-permit/; "Air board delays Buckingham compressor station permit decision," The Virginia Mercury, November 9, 2018, https://www.virginiamercury.com/2018/11/09/air-board-delays-buckingham-compressor-station-permit-decision/ (last checked January 9, 2019)
17. "Atlantic Sunrise Project Overview," Williams, http://atlanticsunriseexpansion.com/about-the-project/overview/; "A Matter of Public Necessity," Bacon's Rebellion, September 22, 2016, http://www.baconsrebellion.com/2016/09/a-matter-of-public-necessity.html#more-36143 (last checked November 2, 2016)
18. "Commentary: Will it get built? Atlantic Coast Pipeline, dogged by invalidated permits, faces mounting costs, longer timeline," Virginia Mercury, February 4, 2019, https://www.virginiamercury.com/blog-va/will-it-get-built-atlantic-coast-pipeline-dogged-by-invalidated-permits-faces-mounting-costs-longer-timeline/; "Pipeline problems: State sues over MVP environmental violations and another permit vacated for ACP, which suspends construction," Virginia Mercury, December 7, 2018, https://www.virginiamercury.com/2018/12/07/pipeline-problems-state-sues-over-mvp-environmental-violations-and-another-permit-vacated-for-acp-which-suspends-construction/; "‘If I were Dominion I’d be panicked:’ Federal court vacates another Atlantic Coast Pipeline permit," Virginia Mercury, December 13, 2018, https://www.virginiamercury.com/2018/12/13/if-i-were-dominion-id-be-panicked-federal-court-vacates-another-atlantic-coast-pipeline-permit/ (last checked February 5, 2019)
19. "Court rejects pipeline developers’ request to overturn AT decision," Southern Environmental Law Center, February 26, 2019, https://www.southernenvironment.org/news-and-press/news-feed/court-rejects-pipeline-developers-request-to-overturn-at-decision; "Quoting 'The Lorax,' Court Pulls Permit For Pipeline Crossing Appalachian Trail," National Public Radio, December 14, 2018, https://www.npr.org/2018/12/14/676950106/quoting-the-lorax-court-pulls-permit-for-pipeline-crossing-appalachian-trail; "Will they be built? Virginia’s contentious pipeline projects face major legal hurdles," Virginia Mercury, May 29, 2019, https://www.virginiamercury.com/2019/05/29/will-they-be-built-virginias-contentious-pipeline-projects-face-major-legal-hurdles/ (last checked May 30, 2019)
20. "Pipeline vs. preservation: Spectra route’s path through landmark sites ‘baffling,’ say stewards," C'ville, July 16, 2014, http://www.c-ville.com/pipeline-vs-preservation-spectra-routes-path-through-landmark-sites-baffling-say-stewards/ (last checked February 16, 2018)
21. "Williams Partners Seeks FERC Approval for Southeastern Trail Expansion Project to Serve Growing Demand for Natural Gas in Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern U.S.," The Williams Companies, April 12, 2018, http://investor.williams.com/press-release/williams/williams-partners-seeks-ferc-approval-southeastern-trail-expansion-project-se; Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Company, Application Number 20180853, Part 1, Virginia Marine Resources Commission, received May 30, 2018, https://webapps.mrc.virginia.gov/public/habitat/getADD.php?id=105575 (last checked June 25, 2018)
22. "Pipeline proposals to test Delmarva’s appetite for natural gas," Bay Journal, October 24, 2018, https://www.bayjournal.com/article/pipeline_proposals_to_test_delmarvas_appetite_for_natural_gas; "Tell Denton Town Council: No Tax Breaks For Polluters," No Eastern Shore Pipeline, September 4, 2018, http://www.noeasternshorepipeline.org; "Open Season Notice for Firm Service, August 21st, 2017 – October 22nd, 2017," Delmarva Pipeline Company, http://delpipeco.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Delmarva-Open-Season-8-17-2017.pdf; "Market Hub Services & Pipeline Expansion," Eastern Shore Natural Gas, https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/2768540/2020%20-%202022%20OPEN%20SEASON%20-%20Market%20Hub%20Solution/Open%20Season-2020-2022%20Market%20Hub%20Expansion%20Project%2002072018%20with%20links.pdf (last checked October 28, 2018)

the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline
the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline
Source: Atlantic Coast Pipeline

gas reservoirs are no longer concentrated along the Gulf coast, so the gas pipeline network will be expanded to move natural gas from new production areas to customers located in urban areas and to power plants in rural areas
gas reservoirs are no longer concentrated along the Gulf coast, so the gas pipeline network will be expanded to move natural gas from new production areas to customers located in urban areas and to power plants in rural areas
Source: US Department of Energy, Modern Shale Gas Development in the United States: A Primer, United States Shale Basins (Exhibit ES-1)


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