Editor: The demand for natural gas to meet residential, business and power-generation uses continues to grow quickly because of its low-cost, reliability and environmental benefits. Dominion’s Eastern Market Access (EMA) Project will help meet increasing demand for two local customers: Washington Gas, a regulated gas utility serving the metro DC area, southern Maryland and northern Virginia; and a new electric power-generation facility.
Just as local officials and community planners must manage the demand for new schools, roads and other services that comes with a growing population, we too must expand our pipelines and power lines to meet increasing energy demands. EMA would provide enough natural gas on an average winter day to warm more than 267,000 households. By adding compression along the existing pipeline system, Dominion can deliver the additional supplies of natural gas necessary to heat and power homes and businesses in our thriving communities—all while requiring no new pipeline right of way and lowering carbon emissions.
Using natural gas to generate electricity will contribute to cleaner air in our communities. Natural gas generates half the carbon emissions of coal, and an even smaller fraction of other emissions. Regional utility companies continue to replace older, coal-fired plants with cleaner-burning natural gas facilities, and it is making a dramatic positive impact.
Renewable energy, mostly solar and wind, is growing and is emissions-free, but it cannot be counted on because of its intermittent nature to consistently meet customer demand. Natural gas is the perfect backup for renewables when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing to ensure customers can heat and power their homes and businesses.
Expanding access to natural gas will provide lasting economic benefits. Affordable electricity and access to natural gas are two of the most critical ingredients for economic development. EMA will help ensure both. During construction, the project will provide short-term jobs for many local workers, and use materials from local vendors. Once in operation, this project will provide additional tax revenue to individual counties along with secure and reliable supplies of natural gas to serve customers.
There has been increased residential development near the Loudoun Compressor Station, much of which did not exist when the station was built. We have designed this project to have the least impact possible on neighboring property owners. All new station construction will take place within the existing facility footprint, and any equipment added is designed to minimize air emissions and meet or surpass air-quality regulations established to protect the public health.
And, while many customers are served from our facilities in Loudoun County, this project has nothing to do with exports. The EMA project is 100 percent committed to satisfying the critical needs of two local users, who will serve domestic customers and decrease our dependence on foreign energy sources to power our region.
We will continue working with our communities to provide safe, reliable, environmentally friendly, clean-burning natural gas to meet the growing energy needs of this region for years to come.
Spencer Adkins, Richmond
[The writer is the director of Dominion Transmission’s Engineering Services.]