A power plant planned for construction near Brandywine will not be a customer for the natural gas pipeline that runs through northern Charles County following a decision by Dominion Energy LLC not to build a compressor station in Bryans Road opposed by many local residents.
In a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week, Dominion announced that Mattawoman Energy LLC “will no longer be a Project Customer” for Dominion’s $147.3 million Eastern Market Access project, which involves upgrades to the 88-mile-long Cove Point Pipeline.
Washington Gas Light Company, the only other customer slated to be served by the project expansion, remains committed to purchasing 150,000 dekatherms of gas per day, a little over half of what Dominion had originally projected to sell. The announcement is the latest twist in the story of the Eastern Market Access project, which sparked opposition from local residents and environmental groups following Dominion’s announcement that it intended to construct a natural gas compressor station in Bryans Road as part of the project.
Opponents of the compressor station testified about their concerns over the potential health and safety risks that would be posed by exhaust emissions, inadequate water pressure for firefighters, and frequent flooding on Barrys Hill Road that they argued would have hampered access to the site in an emergency.
Dominion filed a lawsuit against Charles County in U.S. District Court last May following the county board of appeals’ decision to deny Dominion a special zoning exception that would allow it to construct the compressor station. Three months later, however, Dominion announced it would seek an alternate location for the station following negotiations with the Mount Vernon Ladies Association over concerns that the compressor station would mar the view from the historic property across the Potomac River.
The filing, an amendment to a regulatory document called a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, goes on to say that Dominion “has completed construction of all of the facilities necessary to provide the Project service, as amended, and hopes to place the Project in service as soon as possible,” suggesting that the company’s search for an alternate location has ended as well.
The pipeline runs to the Cove Point liquefied natural gas terminal in Calvert County. Two compressor stations are already operating on the Cove Point pipeline, one each in Fairfax and Loudoun counties in Virginia.
Dominion spokesperson Karl Neddenien declined to elaborate whether the withdrawal of Mattawoman Energy was related to the cancelation of the Bryans Road compressor station.
“[Dominion] and Mattawoman agreed that Mattawoman will no longer be a customer under the amended EMA Project,” Neddenien said in a written statement provided to the Maryland Independent. “As a result, the amended EMA project reduces the capacity of the project, which is fully subscribed by the sole customer, Washington Gas Light Company.”
Neddenien added that Dominion expected to put the project in service “as soon as possible to help WGL meet the growing need for energy and to ensure system reliability in Maryland.”
“We are restoring the area of disturbance [at the Bryans Road site] and we will continue our existing operations at that site, which consist of a field office, a warehouse, and pipeline inspection and safety-related equipment,” Neddenien said.
The Mattawoman Energy Center is a 990-megawatt natural gas power plant being proposed by Dallas-based Panda Power Funds for construction near Brandywine. The proposal has come under criticism from nearby residents because there are already three power plants operating nearby, at Chalk Point, Cedarville and the newest plant in North Keys, just a mile away from the Mattawoman Energy site.
Just under three-quarters of Brandywine’s residents are African American, which has led opponents to raise environmental justice concerns over the siting of the power plants there.