Clean Virginia: Dominion Energy blueprint falls short of clean energy needs
Dominion Energy’s latest Integrated Resources Plan projects significant rate increases and an increased reliance on short-term fracked gas, despite the monopoly’s recent public commitments to clean energy, according to Clean Virginia.
“After decades of delays and resistance, Dominion has been forced by recent law to move forward on clean energy. The new Integrated Resource Plan appears after an initial review to be a flawed and imperfect reflection of the clean energy directive from the Governor, General Assembly, and citizens of the Commonwealth,” said Clean Virginia Executive Director Brennan Gilmore.
The utility monopoly filed its latest IRP to account for the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which Gov. Ralph Northam signed into law last month. Primary findings from the plan include:
- Significant rate increases. Dominion estimates that the cost of its proposal will result in a rate increase of 37% over the next 10 years, with a typical residential customer’s monthly power bill rising by $45.92. Dominion customers already pay among the highest electric bills in the United States and the monopoly has consistently overcharged by hundreds of millions of dollars each year. In advance of any new rate increases, the General Assembly must empower regulators to hold a comprehensive rate case that would set a fair base rate for customers, review Dominion’s spending, and issue refunds for overcharges as appropriate.
- Declining demand for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Dominion forecasts no new baseload natural gas generation in its IRP, illustrating the declining demand for natural gas to meet Virginia’s energy needs and undermining its justification for the $8 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline. In its proposal, Dominion includes high-cost combustion turbines, or peaker plants, which would operate only during periods of high demand and do not justify continued investments in a multi-billion-dollar interstate gas pipeline.
- Inadequate solar and storage resources. Dominion prioritizes the development of new high-cost gas peaking facilities at the expense of low-cost combined renewable and battery storage resources. As utilities across the country invest in plans to meet 100% clean energy goals, Dominion told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that “there is not a plan to do that. What we would need is new technology.” The company’s statement underscores the need to increase competition in Virginia’s energy market in order to spur innovation and meet the overwhelming mandate from Virginians to prioritize clean energy.
- Abandonment of the $19 billion North Anna 3 nuclear plant. Dominion states in its IRP that it has “paused” development of a third nuclear reactor at its North Anna facility. This is further confirmation that North Anna 3 was never a cost-effective generation project and will not be built, as the office of the Virginia Attorney General warned in 2015. Dominion has already spent over $300 million of customer’s money for North Anna 3, money that otherwise would have been refunded. Clean Virginia detailed the failed North Anna 3 project in the Dominion Scam report.
“Dominion is proposing a substantial overhaul of the way electricity is generated, consumed, and stored, all of which will have a significant economic impact for Virginian families and businesses,” Gilmore said. “The new construction envisioned by its IRP will generate significant shareholder profit for Dominion, but major rate increases for customers. However, the utility monopoly has aggressively opposed any attempt at a transparent review of its rates, despite overcharging Virginians by $1.3 billion since 2015. Dominion’s continued unwarranted reliance on fossil fuels and evasion of a fair review of rates — particularly at a time of unprecedented hardship – is deeply irresponsible. The General Assembly should urgently mandate regulators to conduct a full, transparent review of Dominion’s current rate structure in light of its massive spending plans.”