wfir-linkRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A study commissioned by the companies planning to build a pipeline to deliver natural gas to the Southeast says the project would lower customer energy bills and increase employment. The $5 billion, 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline would run through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. It’s a joint venture between Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources. The study released Wednesday says customers in Virginia and North Carolina could save about $377 million annually in lower energy costs. According to the analysis, those lower costs could spur more than 2,200 jobs because businesses would have more money to invest in growing their businesses and consumers would have more money to spend. If approved by federal regulators, the pipeline is expected to be in service by late 2018.