- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Dominion Energy held its first open house Wednesday night at the Holiday Inn Conference Center and Marina in Solomons where the public could learn about the company’s proposed expansion to the Cove Point plant in Lusby that would allow the export of natural gas.
“We’re just starting here today with the public,” said Daniel E. Donovan, director of media relations. “It’s to bring all the concerns to the table from the community, the environmental community [and] the state … before we finish our design.”
Donovan said Dominion is still in the “pre-file process” with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build a natural gas liquefaction plant proposed for its Cove Point facility. Dominion’s proposed expansion will allow the plant to export natural gas. The company plans to request project approval by March 2014 with an in-service date of 2017, pending necessary approvals.
Donovan said as part of the pre-filing process, the company is required to have open houses for the public to learn about and express concerns about the project. Their concerns and ideas will be compiled and considered for the company’s final proposed design, he said.
“If you have concerns about [the project], this is when we want to hear it,” Donovan said. “When we get everything wrapped up, then we file … a proposed site taking everybody’s concerns into consideration.”
Donovan said the company will be able to build the liquefaction plant within the footprint of the existing facility.
“Since we’re building on our existing industrial site … we’re not taking virgin land,” Donovan said.
Approval came from the Department of Energy last fall to export up to 365 billion cubic feet annually to countries with a free trade agreement with the U.S., and approval to export to non-FTA countries was requested in June. This spring, Dominion signed an agreement with two corporations, including Sumitomo Corp. in Japan, to ship the gas, with a planned project capacity of about 750 million cubic feet per day on the inlet and about 4.5 to 5 million metric tons per year on the outlet, according to information provided at the open house.
Prior to initiating the pre-filing process, The Sierra Club expressed opposition to the export facilities and announced its intentions to block the project, claiming it has the right to do so based on a revised legal settlement. According to information presented at Wednesday’s open house, Dominion claims there is no language in the settlement allowing the organization to keep it from expanding at that facility and has filed a lawsuit in the Calvert County Circuit Court requesting a declaratory judgment on the issue.
According to information provided at the open house, Dominion expects about 750 construction jobs will be created during the more than three years of construction, with between 2,700 and 3,400 jobs associated with the project in the county alone. The company expects property taxes to increase by up to $40 million annually because of the project, according to company information, and will generate about $22 million in value annually to the local economy from 2018 through 2037 from ongoing plant activities.