Gov. Roy Cooper last week brokered a controversial memorandum of understanding  with Dominion Power, which co-owns with Duke Energy, the even more controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Under the agreement, Duke and Dominion will pay a total of $57.8 million to a mitigation fund to pay for the “unavoidable” environmental damage caused by the pipeline, as well as for “support and funding” for economic development and renewable energy in the eight counties in eastern North Carolina affected by the ACP: Northampton, Halifax, Nash, Wilson, Johnston, Sampson, Cumberland and Robeson.
To Duke and Dominion $57.8 million is pocket change. Considering the utilities will divide the cost — $28.9 million each – the financial hit is minimal.
Further dwarfing the outlay, only half of the total is due upfront. Each utility will initially pay only $14.45 million until the ACP has begun to operate.
To put the financial “burden” in perspective, consider how $57.8 million compares with these figures:
$6.98 billion: Gross income, 2017, Dominion Power
$5.5 billion: Estimated cost to build the 160-mile North Carolina portion of the pipeline
$1.4 billion: Total payroll, all industries, Nash County, 2012
$50 million: Retail establishment payroll, 2012, Halifax County
$27 million: Combined annual salaries of Duke CEO Lynn Good and Dominion CEO Tom Farrell, including stocks and bonuses
$31,543: Median household income, Northampton County
$11,000: Average upfront cost to install a 5-kilowatt solar energy system on a home, since the legislature discontinued state tax incentives
50%: Estimated percentage of rental households, about 19,640, that devote more than a third of their gross income to rent – not including utilities – in Fayetteville, in Cumberland County.
239: Estimated number of housing units that don’t use any type of fuel for heating or cooling, Robeson County
3.67% : More money per kilowatt hour that residents of Autryville, in Sampson County, pay for electricity, compared to the North Carolina average
3: Degrees warmer than average in Johnston County, 2017, attributed to climate change
0-19: Number of employees working for utilities in Wilson County
Sources: Securities and Exchange Commission filings, US Census, Electricity Local, Solar Power Rocks, NOAA