Home Energy and Environment Dominion Energy Locking Virginia Into Super-Expensive, Natural Gas “Peaker Plants?”

Dominion Energy Locking Virginia Into Super-Expensive, Natural Gas “Peaker Plants?”

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by Todd Smyth

Many Virginia elected officials are not well informed about energy topics, such as what natural gas “peaker plants” are, so here’s a quick overview.

Peaking power plants or “peaker plants” are small natural gas-fired power plants that are used to help meet peak demand for electricity, which is from about 6-9am and 5-8pm on weekdays. “Peaker plants” are smaller than “baseload” gas-fired power plants, and can be built closer to urban areas. The problem is that they are almost the most expensive option for electricity (see chart below). “Peaker plants” are also a very profitable option for the company supplying the gas.

If Dominion Energy continues to build natural gas pipelines, they will lock us into using that fossil fuel — and “peaker plants” will be their only solution to “modernizing” our grid. This could leave Virginia with the most expensive electricity in the world, as everyone else moves away from fossil fuels as fast as they can. Please take a look at the cost comparison chart below, and keep in mind that wind and solar are expected to continue to drop dramatically in cost, while natural gas prices are expected to increase through 2050.Lazard’s Levelized (unsubsidized) Cost of Energy 2017

NOTE: Energy efficiency (aka, “negawatts“) is the lowest cost electricity option, yet Dominion is ranked second-worst in the U.S. when it comes to energy efficiency. For that reason, Virginia has a lot of room to become more energy efficient, lower our power consumption and CO2 emissions, and also lower our power bills.

How Much Does Energy Efficiency Cost?
2017 Utility Energy Efficiency Scorecard

Wind and solar are crushing records below $2/kWh for electricity, while Virginia residents pay $12.28/kWh (see links below).

Cheapest electricity on the planet is Mexican wind power at $1.77/kWh
Saudi Arabia setting solar pricing records at $1.79/kWh
Virginia pays $12.28/kWh Source: EIA Electric Power Monthly

Meanwhile, natural gas prices are expected to continue going up for at least the next 11 years…possibly even through 2050.

Natural Gas Price Forecast: 2018 to 2030 (Gas is going up)

Also note that energy storage is quickly replacing natural gas “peaker” plants in the U.S. and around the world.

Will Energy Storage Replace Peaker Plants? (Yes)
California Targets PG&E Natural Gas Plants With Storage
New York sets bigger energy storage target than California
Gas fired power plants risk becoming stranded assets
The Energy Revolution of 2018: Electricity Storage – Forbes

Keep in mind, Russia and Iran are the most dependent on oil and natural gas, and have the most to lose as China, India, Europe, etc. are moving very rapidly toward renewable energy. The way to defeat Russia and Iran, without firing a shot, is to join the rest of the world in moving away from oil and gas as quickly as we can.

U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

Saudi Arabia spending $200B to build the world’s largest solar project
China is building the world’s largest solar park that’s five times the size of Manhattan
Saudi Arabia’s 1st Wind Farm Receives Strikingly Low Bid Prices