The following tweets – by reporter Robert Zullo, former Del. Albert Pollard, David Jonas of Clean Virginia and Ben Serrurier of LevelTen Energy – all nail it on Dominion Energy: 1) critics HAVE been saying this for years, and they’re right, that Dominion “has consistently over-forecast electricity demand to justify building new capacity, primarily natural gas plants with dubious economics that will ultimately be paid for by ratepayers”; 2) every Virginia policymaker SHOULD read this article by S&P Global Market Intelligence (“Overpowered: In Virginia, Dominion faces challenges to its reign“); 3) Dominion finally seems to be dropping *some* of its unnecessary new natural gas-fired power capacity (see today’s Utility Dive article, “Dominion suspends plan to add 1.5 GW of peaking capacity as Virginia faces gas glut” but they need to ditch all of it; 4) and yeah…Dominion is full of crap when it claims we need “1.5 GW of new gas.”
A few other points from the S&P Global Market Intelligence piece include:
- “[D}espite a dramatic fall in power prices and its decision to mothball a significant portion of its generating fleet, Dominion continues to add more natural gas generation capacity” (Perhaps, in part, to help justify their Atlantic Coast Pipeline boondoggle/ripoff?)
- “The proposals come as electricity demand in Virginia grew less than 1% from the Great Recession of 2007-2008 through 2017, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and is projected to remain essentially flat for at least the next decade. In an era of little to no demand growth, when it is already removing plants from service long before their planned retirement dates, Dominion continues to add thousands of megawatts of new gas-fired capacity. And since it is a regulated monopoly, the company continues to pass the costs of those plants along to its customers.” (This is appalling and 100% unacceptable; Virginia legislators need to intervene, ASAP!)
- Dominion is somewhere between “wildly exaggerating” and “outright lying” when it claims it needs this new gas-fired power plant capacity to “fill in the gaps when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.” The fact is, Dominion isn’t anywhere near the point where that might be the case, and it almost certainly never will be regardless, given the plummeting cost of energy storage. Plus, of course, if Dominion would do the single most cost-effective thing, namely a massive ramp-up in energy efficiency, they absolutely positively wouldn’t need any new gas-fired capacity – ever.
- “In mid-January, the SCC also rejected about 90% of Dominion Energy Virginia’s proposed grid transformation plan, filed under the new law. The overall plan was ‘unsupported by the evidence,’ the regulators said, and too costly for customers.” – Yep Dominion was LYING.
- “Like many regulated utilities, Dominion makes money not only by selling electricity but also by building new plants. While 19 states have decoupled power generation from transmission and other utility operations, Virginia remains vertically integrated, allowing Dominion to be paid in full for new capacity, including an approved profit.” – This situation absolutely needs to change. “Decoupling,” anyone?!?
- And, perhaps the most important point of all: “‘Dominion’s stranglehold on the Virginia state legislature is slowly loosening,’ Harrison Wallace, Virginia director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network Action Fund, said in a statement following the election. ‘Now it’s up to our leaders to put Virginia on the path to 100% clean energy.'” We all need to make sure this happens, starting in January 2020 – no excuses!
- Oh, and also this: “After Democrats gained control of both houses of the Virginia legislature, a group known as the Virginia Energy Reform Coalition said it is ‘paramount’ for newly elected leaders to work on “replacing the current monopoly structure that electric utilities have abused for too long.'” In other words, is there any reason, at this point in time (given advances in clean energy technology and rapid declines in clean energy costs) that we still need a state-regulated monopoly utility anymore? For more on this topic, see David Roberts’ Power utilities are built for the 20th century. That’s why they’re flailing in the 21st.; There’s a revolution happening in electricity. Utilities need to keep up.; Reimagining electric utilities for the 21st century; The simple reason most power utilities suck; etc. Any other questions?