Congress, Energy, Environment

FERC approves three-year construction deadline extension for MVP Southgate pipeline project

MORGANTOWN – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Tuesday granted a three-year extension for completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate project. MVPS now has until June 18, 2026, to complete the line and put it into service.

FERC voted on MVPS’s timeline extension request during its Tuesday meeting. The 18-page order details arguments opposing the extension and FERC’s reasoning for granting the request.

As background, MVPS is planned to extend 40 miles from MVP’s Virginia endpoint to the North Carolina border and another 34 miles into North Carolina. MVP announced the project in May 2018 and applied for FERC approval that November. FERC issued a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity in June 2020.

FERC’s certificate required completion of the project by June 18 this year, but that deadline was not met and MVP requested the extension to June 18, 2026.

FERC observed that MVP – which will design, build and own the pipeline – has been prevented from completing Southgate due to the terms of its certificate, which required construction to resume on the mainline MVP before construction of Southgate could commence. Passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act now allows MVP to resume construction of the main line.

MVP told FERC that once it resolves mainline system permitting it will resume its permitting efforts for Southgate. “Mountain Valley states that it remains committed to completing the project and that the environmental findings underlying the certificate will remain valid through the term of the extension.”

FERC said good cause exists for the time extension based on its practice of granting extensions when good-faith permitting efforts have been thwarted.

FERC responded to some of the opposition comments in its order, particularly those from Appalachian Voices.

For instance, Appalachian Voices argued that changes in market demand undermine FERC’s conclusion that the project is in the public convenience and necessity. Appalachian Voices argues there is slower than anticipated growth in gas demand in the region, which shows that the project is no longer needed.

But, FERC said, Mountain Valley has said that the project continues to be supported by a long-term precedent agreement with Dominion Energy North Carolina at the same levels as approved in the original order.

FERC clarified its order, saying, “We note that the extension request concerns only the timing, not the nature of Mountain Valley’s proposed Southgate project. We recognize that the environment is subject to change, and that the validity of our conclusions and environmental conditions cannot be sustained indefinitely. … The commission will not issue a notice to proceed with construction until Mountain Valley has shown that it has all necessary permits.”

Following the order, Appalachian Voices restated its opposition in a statement. Ridge Graham, North Carolina program manager, said, “Granting MVP Southgate more time to potentially endanger communities and water resources is appalling given that MVP has made no attempts to reapply for missing permits. The project’s need is still absent and only justified by an agreement with a company that has been sold twice since Southgate was first announced.”

Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin have both supported MVP and MVPS, and played key roles in securing MVP’s progress through legislation.

Capito said on Tuesday, “I successfully fought to get the Mountain Valley Pipeline completed in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, and the Southgate extension would bring more natural gas to more homes and businesses on the East Coast, helping alleviate high energy prices facing families and workers. I’m pleased FERC extended the permit application period for MVP Southgate, which would provide a boost for American energy and our environment.”

Manchin said, “I applaud FERC for extending the construction deadline for MVP Southgate. By connecting to the Mountain Valley Pipeline and unlocking sought-after natural gas supplies to the Carolinas, Southgate will support thousands of American jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment to provide affordable energy that manufacturers and power generators in this region desperately need.”

MVP projects that MVPS will cost $467 million; support 570 jobs in Virginia and 1,130 in North Carolina; generate construction phase taxes of $4.1 million in Virginia and $6.3 million in North Carolina; and after it opens generate annual taxes of $1.2 million in Virginia and $3.4 million in North Carolina.