Cross-posted from that paragon of journalism and reporting Richmond Progressive Examiner.
Dominion Virginia Power would like to build another power plant in Brunswick County that will allegedly save Virginians money over its “expected life” while reducing the quality of living over the course of the “expected lives” of several generations who have been forced to live with more dirty fossil fuel sources of energy (this last half is my own assessment!).
In its unshaking thoughtfulness for its ‘customers’, Dominion Virginia Power has proposed building a $1.3 billion, 1,358-megawatt, gas-fired power plant close to a town called Lawrenceville in Brunswick County, Virginia. In making a case for its construction, Dominion is arguing that the new gas-fired power plant will save customers almost $1 billion over the projected life of the power plant relative to the “next best alternative.”
The alleged demand for more generating capacity would be met with this new plant, according to Dominion. But an State Corporation Commission (SCC) Hearing Examiner, A. Ann Berkebile, didn’t agree with Dominion’s assessment, and coming from anyone inside a historically Dominion-friendly agency like the SCC, the Hearing Examiner’s conclusion was all the more powerful.
“The company’s decision not to affirmatively explore actual, third-party alternatives to the Brunswick Plant – sufficient to meet its expected capacity deficiency – calls into question the necessity and prudence of the Brunswick Plant,” explained A. Ann Berkebile.
According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, Berkebile suggested that the SCC reject Dominions’application for a new plant “without prejudice” and direct the company to refile its application if Dominion Virginia Power evaluates “actual third-party market alternatives” and finds that the Brunswick plant is the best option for ratepayers. That would mean Dominion would have to actually try to look at other options beyond building more power plants inside of the commonwealth.
While that portion of the SCC’s ruling was a victory for Virginians unwilling to see an unnecessary power plant built in our state, the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club was critical of another segment of the SCC’s ruling.
According to the Virginia director of the Sierra Club, Glen Besa, “The hearing examiner still accepted Dominion’s inflated electricity demand projections and rejects energy efficiency as a means of reducing the need for a new gas plant. Unfortunately, the SCC still holds efficiency to a higher standard than investments in polluting fossil fuels.” In other words, the SCC has sipped the kool-aid mixed by companies like Dominion Virginia Power that overwhelmingly looks for short-term profits over long-term economic, environmental, and human-health gains.
I’m glad that Virginia has agencies looking out for our future (my tongue is squarely in my cheek).