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A recent letter to the editor by Kevin Doyle, state director for the Consumer Energy Alliance (“Pipeline will reduce household energy costs,” Nov. 30) assumes that the only objection to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is politicized environmental concerns. However, a different problem is not even being discussed: who will pay for the increased costs of the pipeline?
According to a recent report, “The Vanishing Need for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline” by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, there is a growing risk that the pipeline will not be able to pay for itself.
The report states that the cost of the pipeline, originally estimated at $5.1 billion, has risen to $7 billion, 30% over original estimates. Utilities Duke in North Carolina and Dominion in Virginia are the major owners of the pipeline, and both have projected high future demands as the major reason for building it. Neither of these utilities has reached anywhere near their projections — Duke has not reached its growth projections for five years, according to the report.
Also, if gas must be stored due to lack of demand, that represents an extra cost. In fact, Duke’s plans for new natural gas facilities have been put on hold because of flat demand. According to the report, the reason for this is that renewable energy, such as wind and solar, has become competitive and makes up a larger share of energy production.
Renewable energy is less expensive and environmentally safer than the production of gas and distribution through a pipeline. It makes an expensive pipeline obsolete before it is built. It saves money for consumers. This is already recognized by other states, such as Georgia, where state commissioners have decided to increase production of solar power.
The Consumer Energy Alliance should recognize that this $7 billion pipeline is not justified based on economics. They should be talking about bringing North Carolina into the 21st century with increased renewable energy — not saddling us with more debt.
The writer is former chairwoman of the Sierra Club NYC Watershed Committee.