Dominion's job-creation myths

Dominion Power is at it again. Planting misleading stories seems to be their style. And people are believing it!

Dominion is shouting “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs”

In a recent Nelson County Times article, it is implied that young people will stay in the county because the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will bring jobs here.

Of course there would be jobs building the proposed pipeline, but these jobs would be filled by workers who travel the length of the line. Dominion brought in out-of-state workers to cut the trees at the entrance to Wintergreen and other nearby areas. This is an insult to our county loggers who are some of the best in the country and shows that Dominion really cares little about our local economy.

After construction, the only way a meaningful number of jobs would be created would be if a company bought a tap into the line. “The cost of a tap is $500,000 and the necessary metering and regulation ... station would be in the range of $5 million to $8 million, depending on how much natural gas is required,” noted Dominion spokesman Jim Norvelle in an email to The Farmville Herald for a May 27, 2015, article (“The cost of an ACP tap”).

This would have to be a huge operation burning huge amounts of natural gas, creating pollutants that would directly harm our existing business base of tourism and agribusiness and also harm our health by fouling our clean air and, eventually, our water.

The only job that I see Dominion creating in the county is someone working from home to write slanted, misleading stories of the wonder and goodness of Dominion Power as it continues to rape the planet.

See through the myth.



Pipeline a thing of the past

How nice it is to read of Nelson County residents who care about the future of their families and of Nelson County. too. However, a prosperous future means making changes ... getting started building clean energy in Virginia. Pipelines are built to last 80 years, but our use of gas for heating and electricity will be gone way before then. And our clean energy future is both cheaper and creates more jobs than any other industries right now.

Here are a few projections from Bloomberg:

» “By 2023, onshore wind and photovoltaic — PV — are competitive with new-build gas plants in the U.S.”

» “Five years later, PV undercuts existing gas generation.”

» “The levelized cost of offshore wind to decline 71 percent by 2040.” Virginia’s offshore wind has the potential to generate three or more times Dominion’s 2017 net energy load. The offshore leases Dominion won in 2013 can provide the electricity equivalent of 2.5 nuclear plants.

» “The levelized cost of new electricity from solar PV drops by 66 percent by 2040.” National figures say Virginia can produce 25 percent of our electricity from rooftop solar.

So the truth is the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will keep Virginia in the past. Let’s put that pipeline money into offshore wind and solar, maybe with some batteries too. Let’s be sure Virginia’s future includes a modern energy system.



ACP can’t deliver on promises

In the Jan. 24 issue of the Nelson County Times, we read that Atlantic Coast Pipeline opponents and our neighbors who support the project share at least some of the same goals. Like the proponents, those who oppose the project also want a healthy county economy that provides good jobs and enables the young people who want to stay in Nelson to do so.

However, we differ strongly about how to achieve those goals. We view the ACP as a threat to one of the state’s fastest growing rural economies. That growth is based primarily on tourism, which in our case rests largely on the emergence of the adult beverage industry — wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries. Those thriving businesses, which now employ many of Nelson’s young folks, chose to come here because of our beautiful environment and clean water.

A major part of the county’s budget depends on Wintergreen Resort. In a warming climate, the future of any southern ski resort is tenuous. If the resort were to falter, the county would face major reductions in the funding for our fine schools. The resort has sought ways of moving from seasonal to year-round operation. The single biggest missing piece is a sizable hotel. Wintergreen’s owners have a plan for a 200-bed hotel, which would enable the resort to host conferences year-round. The owners have said they will not build it if the ACP is built as planned, in close proximity to the resort’s entrance.

The route of the ACP would also plow through the heart of the planned Spruce Creek Resort and Market and kill any chance of buildout. Taken together, the Wintergreen hotel and Spruce Creek resort represent $75 million in investments, $23.5 million to $32 million in annual revenue and at least 250 new full-time tourism jobs, according to Friends of Wintergreen. For Nelson’s younger generation, those jobs could help them develop their business skills and gain entry into the worldwide, multi-billion dollar tourism industry.

If the ACP is built, what jobs would it provide? Dominion continues to claim that the ACP would provide 17,000 jobs, but the truth is that it’s closer to 271 jobs spread over three states. And those 271 jobs are only during the planned six-year development and construction phase. Even for those jobs, most of the high-paying jobs will go to out-of-state contractors with special skills. For example, when ACP removed the trees on the right-of-way near Wintergreen, all the loggers’ trucks sported out-of-state plates. Dominion’s reliance on non-local workers for the best jobs leaves low-skill jobs that, in Nelson, are probably short-lived. How does a young person build a future on that?

If ACP construction begins, our main roads — Virginia 151, Virginia 6 and U.S. 29 — will be impacted by Dominion’s heavy trucks, some carrying water from a pond off U.S. 29 to the site where the HDD bore under the Blue Ridge would be done. Who will pay for road maintenance and repair? Doubtless, some motels, gas stations, speedy marts, dollar stores and fast food places would get a temporary boost in their businesses, but that boost is small compared to the revenue from a single week during a good ski season.

The potential negative environmental impacts of the ACP are not limited to effects on the viewsheds. Many residents and all the adult beverage businesses rely on good groundwater. If the ACP leads to contamination of our groundwater resources, Nelson’s future will be far bleaker.

Finally, no matter how many assurances Dominion offers to people concerned about potential pipeline explosions, none of us can put that possibility out of mind. Pipeline failures do occur, and with the rush to get new ones in the ground, recent pipelines are leaking and exploding more and more frequently. In 2018 alone, 12 gas pipelines ruptured nationwide. In at least two cases, brand new pipelines failed because of soil movement following heavy rains. With the ACP route traversing Nelson’s steep slopes, there is a good chance that something similar could happen here. And the ACP is no ordinary pipeline; at 42 inches in diameter, it would be the largest ever built through terrain like we have in Nelson County.

Building the ACP is not the right way to reach the goals its proponents seek. The ACP is an economic loser and environmental threat for Nelson County.


President, Friends of Nelson


In defense of capitalism

The laws of supply and demand upon which capitalism is based are immutable. Many years ago, a gentleman named Leonard E. Read wrote an essay entitled “I, Pencil”. It is a seven-page autobiography/genealogy of a pencil. Search for it online and read it.

He explains how the labor and raw materials for a simple pencil come from all over the world. The loggers, roughnecks, miners, smelters, truck drivers, machinist, chemist, farmers, and others, work in perfect harmony even though they are worlds apart, do not communicate with one another and have no personal interest in making pencils. They simply respond to the demand for their service and exchange their contribution to the process for what they do have an interest in, a means of providing for their families.

No one person, or group, in the supply chain is capable of singlehandedly producing a pencil. No one person is capable of orchestrating the hundreds of people and materials from around the globe that are involved in producing one. What Adam Smith referred to as “the invisible hand” of capitalism is the only force capable of efficiently doing so. It is true that each person in the capitalist supply chain is motivated to participate in this symphony by self-interest; greed if you prefer. But, if you remove this incentive, the system breaks down. That is what socialism does. In the name of social justice, it removes the capitalist profit incentive and tries to replace it with central planning.

Hugo Chavez came to power in Venezuela and maintained it by demonizing capitalism while promising social justice and “free stuff” through central planning. In less than two decades, Venezuela went from being one of the richest countries in the world to complete economic collapse. Citizens are now fleeing by the millions and eating pets, pigeons and garbage as they leave.

The self-proclaimed Democratic Socialists in our own country (and county) are now openly promoting the socialist model. They also promise social justice and “free stuff” while demonizing capitalism and the conservatives who promote it. Before you buy their propaganda and vote Democrat, think Venezuela.

The opinions expressed herein have not been endorsed by any group with which I am affiliated.