Federal regulators give more time to complete gas pipeline expansion in Virginia, North Carolina


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Builders of a proposed natural gas pipeline to cross from Virginia into North Carolina now have 2 1/2 years to complete the project after federal regulators pushed back the deadline for the work. Is.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Tuesday approved a request from the owners of the Mountain Valley Pipeline's proposed 75-mile (121-kilometer) Southgate expansion for more time to build, news outlets reported.

According to the previous FERC certification, the project should have been built and in service six months ago. But resolution of problems Legal challenges to the larger Mountain Valley Pipeline in North Carolina and Virginia meant the owners missed the deadline.

Now, with FERC's order, owners have until June 2026 to complete the MVP Southgate project and bring it into service. More permits still need to be secured for construction.

Project spokesman Shawn Day said the project's owners, which include a consortium of natural gas and energy companies, are pleased with FERC's decision.

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“At the appropriate time, Mountain Valley intends to pursue all necessary permits and authorizations to complete construction of the MVP Southgate project,” Day wrote in an email.

The Southgate expansion will continue to push gas south from the planned 303-mile (488-kilometer) Mountain Valley Pipeline that will run through West Virginia and Virginia. The extension will run from the main pipeline in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, to Rockingham and Alamance Counties in North Carolina.

The future of the pipeline – and thus expansion – appeared uncertain due to opposition from environmental groups and some elected officials. But Congress last year Construction of the pipeline was ordered as part of a bipartisan bill to essentially raise the debt ceiling. Last summer, federal courts also rejected a challenge to the construction permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and allowed to resume construction,

MVP Southgate will be the second pipeline carrying natural gas to enter North Carolina. Project proponents have said additional gas capacity is needed for reliable and affordable energy. It appears that Duke Energy needs the supply to transition its coal-fired power plants to natural gas.

Democratic Governor Roy Cooper and other elected Democratic officials – including U.S. Representatives Kathy Manning and Valerie Fauci of North Carolina and Representatives Jennifer McClellan and Bobby Scott of Virginia – opposed allowing more time for the project. members of congress sent a letter On Monday, FERC expressed concerns about the impact of the expansion on the safety of residents and the environment as efforts continue to move away from fossil fuels.

Still, MVP Southgate requires permits from federal and state agencies, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

Also on Tuesday, FERC agreed to a request from Mountain Valley Pipeline owners to charge higher rates for gas shipped through the buried pipeline. Transportation rates are paid by companies that deliver gas to end users.

The estimated cost of the pipeline is now $7.2 billion, compared to an earlier estimate of $3.7 billion.

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