Why Clean Energy Will Be Cheaper

Dominion's Cove Point

Dominion’s Cove Point

By Peter Galuszka

The Sturm und Drang to which utility executives, coal companies and politicians have subjected Virginians as they oppose President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions has always been a deliberate distraction from what’s really happening.

According to them and their confederates at the State Corporation Commission and the state Department of Environmental Quality, the clean air act which seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by a certain date is a foolhardy, ill-intended bureaucratic effort to put coal out of business and slap ratepayers with bigger bills.

I had a moment of clarity when I read this morning’s Local Opinions page in The Washington Post  and a saw an article by Jon B. Wellinghoff. He is the immediate past chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission so he likely knows a little about energy.

His argument is that basic economics go against the electricity and coal industries’ arguments that reducing carbon will be too expensive. He cites a study by PJM, the large electricity grid of which Virginia is a part. “PJM announced this week that Virginia’s energy costs would be lower under the CPP than without it,?” he writes.

Why so? Wellinghoff says that utilities like Dominion are riding a nice low price natural gas bubble. Gas in the U.S. is going for $3 per million British Thermal Units. How long it will last is the crucial question.

Natural gas costs three times as much in Asia and Europe and (knock, knock) guess which companies are scrambling to get a new set of terminals so they can export it? Electric utilities like Dominion, that’s who.

Dominion is pressing ahead to convert its Cove Point liquefied natural gas plant on the Chesapeake Bay kin Maryland so that it can export gas to Japan and India. Dominion is also pushing a controversial $5 billion pipeline from West Virginia gas fracklands to the southeast. A spur of it would run to port areas in Hampton Roads but if you suggest that maybe Dominion plans to export gas from it, the public relations people get a mite testy.

Wellinghoff doesn’t specifically identify Dominion’s plans but he says there are 14 gas expert terminals underway.

For Virginia ratepayers, that means that a cheap, local commodity will become an expensive, global commodity. The United States will export a commodity and import price volatility.

Who will make money by exporting gas and messing up domestic prices?Dominion, that’s who.

It’s import to remember that the low price gas bubble will pop someday. Therefore, the state needs to stop whining about going to renewables and start applying them. Utilities need to make it easier for homes and business to deploy solar panels and sell extra juice back tot he grid. The U.S. uses 40 percent of the power it generates because of inefficient grids. Virginia is No. 35 in terms of state energy efficiency. Where are efforts to improve this?

Virginia’s disappearing coal industry has been complaining for years that government regulation is driving it out of business. The truth is that coal seams are becoming too uneconomic to mine. Gas is eating its lunch. I went to a Platt’s coal conference a couple of years ago In Florida where I learned that gas would have to jump to something like $8 per million BTU to make Virginia coal profitable again.

That might happen is gas prices rise as Wellinghoff predicts. But he is right that the cadre of utilities are barking up the wrong tree.

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38 responses to “Why Clean Energy Will Be Cheaper

  1. excellent insight – Peter! as per your usual.

    re: how long will nat gas last?

    remember when we were all messed up about using foreign oil and our strategic imperative was to develop our own and free ourselves from getting oil from “countries that don’t like us” or getting our butts mired in the Middle East to “protect” our interests – aka – oil?

    what makes perfect sense is to hold on to our natural gas because we do know it is finite and use it to reduce coal burning and to complement solar and wind that are variable but nat gas turbines have big advantages in that they can ramp up quick and can be distributed – so you might locate one near where a solar grid or wind turbine is – to load balance.

    distributed nat gas would also be a step in the right direction of having a distributed grid.

    I think we are letting companies with profit motives – essentially destroy a giant opportunity for the country to develop a more distributed grid that is more resilient and less vulnerable to regional blackouts..

    but what do you expect from a nation of clueless rubes who can be so easily distracted by industry-funded global warming conspiracy theories?

  2. Someone remind me again, how do solar outputs look over the next 5 billion years. Pretty steady, right?

  3. Unless smog blocks sunlight

    • or fog from the ignorati blather..

      seriously – it’s like we are, in the internet age, growing neo-luddites.

      there is no question that right now wind/solar (and tides in the Cbay) cannot generate anywhere near the power needs.

      and it’s true that there needs to be a backup source of power – but at some point – in the not very distant future – people are going to put solar on their roofs, buy LED lights, and 90+% LEED appliances and only buy power from
      the grid when they need it.

      and it looks like that folks like Dominion have a plan and the plan is this:

      1. – provide power when needed with coal – and charge out the wazoo for it to cover their stranded costs.

      2. – pipeline nat gas to the coast and sell it overseas…

      3. – gut and/or neuter the EPA from trying to protect taxpayers and citizens.

      4. continue to convince the growing rube/Luddites among us about global warming conspiracies.

      you know DonR has an interesting narrative these days – he calls the Va GA a clown show but then he rails against the “liberals”.

      the Va GA is GOP.. and time after time – they side with folks like Dominion while the “liberals” oppose it. When does Don at least give the “liberals” SOME credit?

      • We’re technologically able to meet the world’s energy needs with solar power already. We just lack the political will to do.

        http://landartgenerator.org/blagi/archives/127

        We’d probably be a lot closer in this country if we’d listen to Jimmy Carter 36 years ago when he made the mistake of talking to American voters like adults.

      • Re: your link to DMME

        How many senior DMME employees have been captured by the “clean power” /green crowd? Or perhaps they are just looking where they think they will get their next job. Please do not suffer the delusion that the senior ranks of the DMME are in the p0cket of coal mine owners.

        Have you noticed how the agenda keeps changing? First, it was global warming, then it was climate change. Now it is perverse health effects of CO2.

        But the endgame never changes, does it?

        • re: ” How many senior DMME employees have been captured by the “clean power” /green crowd?”

          why would you say that? is it because you already know that the SCC is infiltrated by Dominion folks and speaks for Dominion position?

          so anyone who provides a different analysis than the SCC is a “clean/green power” org?

          so how do you fix this? I don’t trust the SCC for squat anymore.

  4. Groveton is incredibly brilliant and incredibly contradictory

  5. “PJM announced this week that Virginia’s energy costs would be lower under the CPP than without it.”

    Remarkable statement. I would like to know how PJM justifies that conclusion. If true, it’s very encouraging. But I’m wondering if there are hedges or caveats.

    As for your larger point, I share your view that renewables will become cost competitive some day. But we don’t know when that day will come. I’m more inclined to trust Dominion to make that judgment than pro-renewable zealots influenced by ideology and wishful thinking.

    Dominion has no reason to care what mix of fuel sources it uses. Contrary to those who view the company as some anti-renewable bogey man, Dominion Virginia Power is fuel agnostic. It is guaranteed a return on investment on whatever it builds. If solar or wind power make sense from a cost and system-reliability point of view, they will build it.

    • http://www.pjm.com/~/media/3C832213F02B4E5D9CE0D5FB08AA92E3.ashx

      page 86

      two points – why does the Va SCC not address this?

      second point – why would you expect a for-profit company responsible to it’s investors pick a course of action that would be beneficial to rate-payers rather than investors?

      without real competition Dominion has zero reasons to do anything that benefits rate payers if it comes at the expense of profits.

      the only thing that changes that dynamic is if their pollution subsidy is threatened then they, with the help of their co-opted state proxies like the SCC go after the entity threatening their pollution subsidies.

      • How much money has DMME received since 2009 from the DOE and/or EPA to promote clean energy causes?

        And that’s about as specific as I am going to get here.

        You obviously are skeptical about the SCC staff’s motives. I was merely pointing out that there are many reasons to be skeptical of the motives of others, as well.

        Clean energy has a catchy name, and everyone feels bad for stranded polar bears. But let’s be very cautious before we attempt to remake the entire US electric grid. It might be instructive to look at electricity prices in European countries that have implemented clean power initiatives.

        • no.. you can’t do that guy. If you’re going to accuse them – then you need to substantiate … otherwise it’s just conspiracy mongering and we have too much of that already.

          So now you’re including DOE in the conspiracy? EPA, DIMM, DOE?

          we can both be skeptical but I also did ask if you had a preconceived bias such that no report that contradicted your view – would you trust.

          how about it?

          in terms of conservation.

          what do you think of the role that the govt played in vehicle mileage standards and the outcome of it?

          would you support peak hour electricity pricing?

          I am no “clean power” or “green power” advocate.. I’m a healthy skeptic but I also recognize partisan politics when I see it and that’s what the SCC was doing.

          where is their substantial analysis – that truly deals honestly with the issue? one that would show up flaws in the DIMM analysis or at the least be a contrast – alternative viewpoint.

          the simple fact is the SCC letter is just a letter of opposition – politically tinged and sounding surprisingly like what Dominion would say…

          I seriously do not know all the ins and outs of the issue.

          I DO think to NOT address upgrading the grid and assuming only Nuclear could replace coal plants are questionable and go to the heart of whether the SCC actually intended a substantiative response.

          that letter is more like a political spitball than anything of substance in my view but I’m not going to accuse them of a conspiracy – I’m just going to say their work product – sucks as a credible analysis and response.

          You worry about DOE. I worry about the width and breadth of Dominion’s involvement in Virginia Govt and I think there are clear signs that they have little or not interest in improving the grid, incorporated a distributed system of Nat Gas plants and no interest in pursuing dynamic load balancing that would tee them up for a grid that could accommodate solar and wind – at the point when they would be cost-competitive.

          this can’t happen overnight but even without solar/wind – there are huge benefits to a distributed grid capability.

          where is that analysis and recommendation from the SCC?

          where is their compromise position on what the EPA is proposing?

          is it really “we can do nothing” – we oppose it all – period.

          where is the recommended SCC path to the future?

          the SCC’s response is bogus to the bone – it’s an embarrassment to anyone
          beyond the partisan folks.

          my view of course.

          • Believe it or not, I don’t have an entirely favorable opinion of Dominion, either.

            I will leave it to others with curious minds to substantiate what I have said here. It can be done and it should be fairly obvious why I won’t do so here.

            And of course the DOE has been heavily involved with the EPA’s CPP. The EPA’s regulations have been promulgated based on the Clean Air Act, but look at the details. The CPP specifically identifies renewables and energy efficiency as means for implementation.

            The DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy received massive amounts of funding (which was then distributed around the country) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The information garnered from those programs had a direct influence on the drafting of the EPA CPP.

          • is there any group what-so-ever that you’d believe if they contradicted your
            own view?

            how about this one :

            Lights Flicker for Utilities

            http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304773104579270362739732266

            What is Dominion’s plan to deal with residential installation of solar?

            to get the SCC to make it hard to sell power to the grid when there is excess?

            to get the SCC to make the folks who install solar pay a higher “availability fee” for when they do need grid power and the more folks who install SOLAR the higher the fee?

            I predict that at some point – Dominion is going to be between a rock and a hard place of having expensive fixed costs for base load – that is not needed much of the time making it uneconomic to run them less than 24/7.

            Dominion and the SCC seem to be gambling that solar will never get cheap and even if it does – people will not be able to use it to really reduce their power demand.

            this sounds like Dominion is denying the future but hedging their bets that if they are wrong – using the SCC will protect them by penalizing those who adopt solar and keeping Dominion whole.

            I just think the relationship between the SCC and Dominion is not healthy for ratepayers nor Virginia citizens.

            you know – most every island in the world imports coal and oil to power their islands. every bit of solar they install – reduces the amount of coal and oil they must import. Conservation is

            electricity on those islands costs twice what it costs here. You cited Europe. What about Hawaii?

    • Yeah, I can’t imagine why a profit-seeking entity that can keep its balance sheet costs down by relying on infrastructure to turn fuel into electricity that already exists – some of which is still waiting to get a ROI – would care what type of fuel it uses.

      But I’m just some wild zealot who can’t be bothered to set wishful thinking aside and consider the purity of the free market.

      • I think you miss the point of a guaranteed ROI for Dominion.

        If the EPA’s new clean power rules for VA take effect, Dominion will be forced to retire existing plant capacity– some of which was only recently built to meet prior EPA requirements, while at the same time investing in “cleaner” technologies.” But Dominion will still be able to recover the costs of obsolescent plants from ratepayers, even if it cannot use those plants to generate power.

        The idea that clean power will actually be cheaper is contrary to even what most of its advocates say. They predict that rates will go up, but usage will go down, so total costs to consumers will not be substantial. That prediction is riddled with assumptions that need to be examined in something much longer that a letter to the WP editorial page.

        But for now let’s assume that clean energy will be cheaper. What jurisdiction does the EPA have to promulgate regulations to provide for cheaper energy sources? Or to provide incentives for green investment opportunities? Or to potentially regulate energy efficiency by end-users?

        I tend to agree that Dominion and the SCC might actually be more reliable on this subject. The SCC staff’s letter to the EPA is worth reading:

        https://gallery.mailchimp.com/a8970db37d2569f1a2b65e59d/files/Virginia_SCC_Staff_Comments_on_Clean_Power_Plan.pdf

        • I find this problematic in terms of objectivity of the SCC analysis:

          why was this done this way? Is this typical of how the SCC “comments” on proposals?

          OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL
          RO. Box 1197
          Richmond, Virginia 23218-1197

          cc: William F. Stephens, Director, Energy Regulation Division
          Susan D. Larsen, Director, Utility Accounting & Finance

          The Staff of the State Corporation Commission of Virginia (“Virginia SCC”) hereby submits these comments on the proposed Clean Power Plan

          The comments and analyses included herein are solely those of the Virginia SCC Staff and should not be construed as representing the views of the Commissioners of the Virginia SCC, who may be called upon toconsider and issue rulings regarding compliance plan components

          • here’s the other side:

            http://powerforthepeopleva.com/2014/10/17/virginias-scc-staff-goes-rogue-attacks-epa-over-the-clean-power-plan/

            one of my problems is they use statements like:

            ” EPA’s Proposed Regulation, if approved, is likely to increase substantially the bills and rates Virginians pay for their electricity, and could impact significantly the reliability of the electrical service they receive”

            where do they actually provide substance to these claims?

            and how did Bill Howell get a copy of the report before it was even posted on the SCC website and go public with it?

            I remain unconvinced that the SCC objectively considers the interests of the ratepayers over the interests of Dominion.

          • You may find it problematic.

            I find the way the EPA CPP was developed equally problematic. In fact, my guess is that large parts of it will be found to be unlawful – especially as it relates to “outside the fence” provisions.

            A lot of the criticism of the SCC is coming from left wing non-profits, and others who have positioned themselves to make a profit from the new regulations. And my guess is that among them, there are very few engineers and/or number-crunchers.

            Even the EPA admits that the CPP will have minimal impact on the climate. If that is the case, then what is it trying to accomplish?

          • how about this:

            http://www.dmme.virginia.gov/DE/LinkDocuments/2014_VirginiaEnergyPlan/22AppendixA2.pdf

            sounds like just considering existing pollutants would lead to billions of savings for people’s pollution-caused health problems -and deaths.

            Here’s the problem – why doesn’t Virginia and SCC at least address these issues in their response?

            it appears to me that the cost of the pollution-caused “externalities” are not considered part of Dominion’s responsibility nor the SCC’s mission to represent and protect Virginians health. It’s like the current damage to people is already “baked-in” to the analysis and not something that should be part of the analysis of the EPA proposal – even though EPA addresses it.

            why does the SCC ignore that part separate and apart from the carbon issue?

          • re: the “agenda” – and assorted conspiracy theories

            the EPA is not just dealing with carbon – there are other pollutants addressed as part of the plan and if not mistaken they already passed legal muster on regulating carbon.

            the current partisan environment is to litigate the EPA at every turn including the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup – Virginia’s own elected that used to support the Bay Cleanup are now on board with opposing it – AND not offering anything as an alternative – as they are not with the EPA’s clean power – proposal. They also, would be entertaining substantiative comments and recommended alternatives …

            but we all know that’s not what this is really about…

            it’s about opposing the EPA at every turn – on things they have done traditionally over decades – ever since they came into existence under Richard Nixon’s tenure.

            Without the Clean Air and Clean Water act – the country would be a disaster but today – if we were to propose the Clean Air and Clean Water Act regulations they would be vociferously opposed.

            For every supposed EPA – excess – you could find 20-30 other regs that we all take for granted – and rely on…from getting kepone/pcbs/dioxin out of the rivers to getting rid of acid rain, or combined sewer overflows, lead in gasoline, acid rain, carcinogens in municipal water supplies, nutrients in waste water, superfund sites, hundreds of actions taken that have benefited all Americans – that if they did not exist and were proposed today- the right would oppose tooth and nail – funded by industry … and supported by elected carrying water for the industries -like they are now for Dominion.

            I expect the SCC to take a balanced view – to look pro and con – not be a defense of Dominion’s position.

            they need to expressly distance themselves from Dominion’s viewpoints to demonstrate their objectivity. they’re not.

          • I can’t seem to reply directly to your responses.

            One person’s agenda is another person’s conspiracy theory. My comments about DMME personnel are based on verifiable employment patterns and board memberships.

            I can only speculate as to why the SCC staff responded as it did. Perhaps they felt that the SCC Board members/Dominion were not looking out for the interests of VA citizens.

            The stated intent of certain well-known “green” foundations in advancing their agenda is to get the electric utilities on their side, and then to use that support to put pressure on state governors. Those foundations, incidentally, also finance state-level initiatives though non-profits, who regularly interact with state regulators.

            Read the letter again. Somebody has to pay for this. It may not be the utilities.

          • do you think the SCC staff has linkages to Dominion?

            can you substantiate this: ” verifiable employment patterns and board memberships.”

            would you accept ANY opposing independent view or just assume they were biased ?

            is there ANY organization that you would believe that had an opposing view?

            I do not believe the SCC in part because their analysis is not really a legitimate analysis – it’s mostly a political statement with no real intent
            to deal with the specifics – as the alternative analysis did.

            you cannot be a state agency opposing something without yourself providing a demonstrably independent analysis that delineates when it disagrees with Dominion’s view.

            One of the things pointed out was the presumption that nuclear would be used to replace coal.

            that’s highly unlikely financially and time frame..and yet it is the ONLY option considered.

            If I cannot depend on the SCC to do a truly objective analysis – then I am forced to look at others – and when others deal substantively with issue that the SCC does not then green conspiracy theory is not a reasonable view.

            the way things work now days – any analysis that differs from one’s own views and biases is a conspiracy even before the organization is named or look at for their other work.

            isn’t http://www.dmme.virginia.gov/ a Virginia agency? and you’re accusing them of being staffed by pro-green folks?

            how did you deduce that?

            is there any group or agency that you’d consider objective?

    • LarryG, I don’t get it. You say, “PJM announced this week that Virginia’s energy costs would be lower under the CPP than without it.” And Jim replies, “Remarkable statement. I would like to know how PJM justifies that conclusion. If true, it’s very encouraging. But I’m wondering if there are hedges or caveats.”

      OK, I’ve joined this party a day late so I went and looked at the PJM document you cite and I cannot find in it what you cite it for.

      What I found was, “Absent nuclear retirements and significantly higher gas prices, wholesale energy prices in Virginia will initially [i.e., in the 2020, as opposed to 2025 or 2029, case study] be lower under the Clean Power Plan than under the 2014 transmission planning case [the PJM ‘RTEP’ or base line case] driven by the assumed level of renewable resources and energy efficiency in the modeled scenarios rather than the Clean Power Plan itself.” This statement clearly contains huge caveats, which PJM goes on to explain.

      For example, this statement references assumptions about renewable resources and energy efficiency. PJM says about the renewables assumption, “Virginia’s RPS is a voluntary standard and has lower targets compared to other states in the region. The physical energy that would be procured given the RPS percentages is diminished further due to credit multipliers, credit for nuclear and research and development, and because the targets are tied to a 2007 base year. The combination of these factors results in the EPA’s assumed renewable goals being significantly higher than the renewables based on the voluntary RPS. EPA’s goal computation assumes renewable growth that ranges between 111 and 162 percent of the renewable requirement calculated for Virginia based on its RPS.” And, re efficiency, “Virginia’s current Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS)12 applied to investor owned utilities would result in less energy efficiency than what is suggested by EPA’s goal computation. Virginia’s EERS requires by 2022 a 10 percent savings in electricity consumption relative to 2006 base sales. Only a portion of the load reduction achieved via the EERS could be counted toward compliance plan. Given the 10 percent reduction from 2006 the cumulative savings of 9.3 percent assumed in the EPA goal computation would not be met by the EERS alone.” PJM report p.87-88.

      In short, PJM concludes the CPP itself doesn’t yield lower wholesale energy prices in Virginia, even in the short run, but finds the EPA built into its calculations significantly higher assumptions about both renewables and lowered consumption of electricity than what would result from existing Virginia RPS and EERS standards. PJM concludes that these altered assumptions, not the clean air rules themselves, “drive” energy prices projected by EPA under the CPP which are “initially” lower than the PJM base case. The implication is, if PJM’s base case contained the same altered assumptions about renewables and efficiencies, they’d be better than the CPP numbers. This does not support the statement, “PJM announced this week that Virginia’s energy costs would be lower under the CPP than without it.”

      • “LarryG, I don’t get it. You say, “PJM announced this week that Virginia’s energy costs would be lower under the CPP than without it.” And Jim replies, “Remarkable statement. I would like to know how PJM justifies that conclusion. If true, it’s very encouraging. But I’m wondering if there are hedges or caveats.””

        need to go back and supply the link you are referring to, please.

        “OK, I’ve joined this party a day late so I went and looked at the PJM document you cite and I cannot find in it what you cite it for.

        here’s what I said:

        http://www.pjm.com/~/media/3C832213F02B4E5D9CE0D5FB08AA92E3.ashx

        page 86

        two points – why does the Va SCC not address this?

        second point – why would you expect a for-profit company responsible to it’s investors pick a course of action that would be beneficial to rate-payers rather than investors?

        without real competition Dominion has zero reasons to do anything that benefits rate payers if it comes at the expense of profits.

        the only thing that changes that dynamic is if their pollution subsidy is threatened then they, with the help of their co-opted state proxies like the SCC go after the entity threatening their pollution subsidies.”

        “What I found was, “Absent nuclear retirements and significantly higher gas prices, wholesale energy prices in Virginia will initially [i.e., in the 2020, as opposed to 2025 or 2029, case study] be lower under the Clean Power Plan than under the 2014 transmission planning case [the PJM ‘RTEP’ or base line case] driven by the assumed level of renewable resources and energy efficiency in the modeled scenarios rather than the Clean Power Plan itself.” This statement clearly contains huge caveats, which PJM goes on to explain.”

        they do but it’s an analysis – not done by Dominon nor the SCC and I asked where was their analysis?

        In short, PJM concludes the CPP itself doesn’t yield lower wholesale energy prices in Virginia, even in the short run, but finds the EPA built into its calculations significantly higher assumptions about both renewables and lowered consumption of electricity than what would result from existing Virginia RPS and EERS standards. PJM concludes that these altered assumptions, not the clean air rules themselves, “drive” energy prices projected by EPA under the CPP which are “initially” lower than the PJM base case. The implication is, if PJM’s base case contained the same altered assumptions about renewables and efficiencies, they’d be better than the CPP numbers. This does not support the statement, “PJM announced this week that Virginia’s energy costs would be lower under the CPP than without it.” ”

        I did not read it that way. The way I read it was that certain other things were going to happen that would lead to greater conservation resulting in lower use and lower cost – not lower wholesale prices.

        in fact I see this: ” Under more stringent CO2 targets in 2025, the OPSI 2b.3 (High Gas price) and OPSI 2b.4 (50 percent nuclear) modeled scenarios continue to have a significant impact on wholesale energy prices. The CO2 prices more than double in these scenarios compared to their 2020 levels, and the wholesale energy prices are 36 and 33 percent higher, respectively, than the 2014 transmission planning case”

        My point is that this is a substantial analysis, in depth and potentially argued against but Dominion and the SCC chose to not produce an equivalent analysis at all and instead chose a political path.

        I do not necessarily believe the PJM study is gospel but I also tend to believe that PJM is not exactly a “green” advocate and probably more aligned with the industry than the wacko left loons.

        so it’s certainly food for thought and I think there is more to it than what you extracted..but I do agree with the part you did extract – but I wonder about context and again why Dominion and the SCC are not capable of their equivalent effort to justify their “do nothing” but attack the EPA position.

  6. I was not impressed with the WaPo opinion piece. For the last 35 years at least, there has been an assumption in the US business community that the future cost of natural gas would skyrocket. Now here we are today with natural gas costing probably 20 times lower than the assumptions. The incorrect high-cost assumption of the past gave us an accelerated use of coal (even when nat gas was cheaper) and we out-sourced our industry to other countries. We need to base energy decisions on what is best for our state/country and not incorrect future cost assumptions.

    Gov McAuliffe on WTOP radio recently said the CPP was very onerous on Virginia, with a potential cost of billions of dollars. We need to be more realistic about energy, like our Governor is being.

    • well I don’t think I trust Dominion to do what is right for ratepayers if it comes at a cost to investors. who would?

      and I no longer trust the SCC to look out for ratepayers either given their recent behaviors that demonstrate they apparently have conflicts because of the way they are constituted and their actions with the EPA.

      I would have expected them to give a pro-con analysis to show what might be a benefit to ratepayers -now and into the future and what would not along with a similar analysis for energy generation and use in Va – regardless of where it comes from.

      Instead, they seem to be speaking for Dominion and others interests.

      I would have, for instance, expect the SCC to talk about the need for a distributed grid that can dynamically load-balance so that it COULD support both renewables and distributed nat gas.

      Instead – they seem to defend the use of coal, disparage renewables, are mute about the need for a modern grid and nat gas and attack the EPA in a partisan manner.

      The SCC has become a de-facto govt arm of Dominion.

  7. Fact check attempt- I saw one reference saying that 5 new LNG export terminals were approved as of Feb_2015. I did see one reference to 14 proposed projects. So my current count is 5 out of 14 have been approved so far. That includes Cove Point, MD. Then 2 each in TX and LA. There apparently is a existing plant in AK.

    • as a policy – should we be exporting nat gas if it is a strategic fuel that is finite?

      what makes senses for the US is to use that fuel to replace the dirtier coal plants especially for peak hour generation.

      beyond that nat gas solves the reliability problem with solar and wind as well as the variability input impacts to the grid and provides a bridge to the future where improved solar/wind will probably evolve and be able to compensate for dwindling supplies of natural gas.

      natural gas is also a path to a more distributed, dynamically load-balancing grid.

      but what investors and companies have chosen is to continue to burn coal, export nat gas making the domestic supplies more expensive and less available for use as a coal replacement and renewable complementary fuel and providing an excuse why dirtier coal plants be closed.

      In other words – if you don’t export natural gas – it’s not only a cheaper replacement for coal – it’s less polluting.

      so why would utility companies not want to use natural gas as a replacement to coal that would also let them distribute the grid and better accommodate solar and wind?

      more important – why is this their decision?

      • Larry that is a current political debate. Even some major chemical companies are lobbying Congress against export of nat gas to keep a low price in the US. That’s why DOE is going very slow on approving the 14 proposed LNG export plants. That’s over my pay grade, but I have previously stated my belief that natural gas is of strategic importance to the US as a future clean energy source, and I would like to be in the position as a Country to use that resource, including importing it if we need to. Also our allies EU need natural gas, so I have trouble seeing how becoming protective is the correct way to go. I do feel natural gas has hazards, and nothing I say about the strategic importance of natural gas should be construed to mean I favor mismanagement of the resource. I feel LNG liquified natural gas is a difficult resource to handle requiring infrastructure, so that will tend to keep adequate supplies of natural gas available on the world market, for those in a position to use it.

        • those are reasonable words Tbill that I cannot really get that upset with.

          although I quibble with the “allies” part as my understanding is that frack gas is not just a US phenomena and probably exists worldwide – just needs a country-driven effort to exploit it.

          but beyond the Chemical industries and other domestic consumers – I am dismayed that the electric utilities do not see it as a strategic part of their energy portfolios. I have to ask – what is the downside of the utilities incorporating natural gas into their portfolios as an important component of a distributed load-balancing grid?

          A cynic might believe that they fear if they do that – then the main arguments against wind/solar – go away and there is no real reason not to develop them, to allow residential solar to feed back into the grid – and to not penalize consumers who install solar …

          I think Dominion is calling the shots here and it’s really not their prerogative unless we abdicate it to them – as we seem to be doing.

          how about it? tell me what is wrong with the utilities adopting nat gas as a strategic fuel ?

        • Agree with you, TBill, “natural gas is of strategic importance to the US as a future clean energy source, and I would like to be in the position as a Country to use that resource, including importing it if we need to.” Cove Point was built in the 1970s to IMPORT gas from Venezuela and Algeria, at a time when US gas was in such short supply that we passed a law sharply limiting its use for power generating; then Cove Point lay dormant for years until DVP bought it. OK, so now we’re talking about cheap natural gas and EXPORTs; but times have changed, and they could change back.

          What I don’t understand is this hostility to exports from folks who think we are so disconnected from the world economy that, by restricting gas exports, we could “keep it for ourselves” and benefit the US economy. (While at the same time refusing to import gas from Canada, etc. – couldn’t resist saying that.) Energy is fungible — including energy used for power generation — but why isn’t that a good thing? Given how the Russians use their control over gas to Europe as a diplomatic club, maybe we need to export more to play in that league too.

          • re: ” What I don’t understand is this hostility to exports from folks who think we are so disconnected from the world economy that, by restricting gas exports, we could “keep it for ourselves” and benefit the US economy. (While at the same time refusing to import gas from Canada, etc. – couldn’t resist saying that.) Energy is fungible — including energy used for power generation — but why isn’t that a good thing? Given how the Russians use their control over gas to Europe as a diplomatic club, maybe we need to export more to play in that league too.”

            no -energy is NOT fungible. Do you recall the discussion back when we were importing oil from “countries that don’t like us” and the outrage over efforts
            to export oil?

            more than that – why in the world would we export finite supplies of nat gas when they are a vital resource for upgrading our power grid?

            why would we take actions that make nat gas more expensive domestically that damages industries that need it including the power grid?

            http://nationalaglawcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/assets/crs/R43231.pdf

  8. ” Natural Gas/LNG
    Section 3 of the Natural Gas Act (NGA) provides that “no person shall export any natural gas from the United States to a foreign country or import any natural gas from a foreign country without having first secured an order of the Commission authorizing it to do so.”19 This authorization is to be issued “unless, after opportunity for hearing, [the Commission] finds that
    the proposed exportation or importation will not be consistent with the public interest.”

    so it’s not like the US does not already consider fossil fuels – strategic and not exportable without restrictions , i.e. not “fungible”

    Nat Gas looks to be vital to the upgrading of our power grid. But we’re apparently willing to trade profits for private investors for strategic value to the country’s power grid.

    I think this goes to show the folly of letting Dominion establish priorities.

    Their priorities are to serve their investors first and they’d sell nat gas overseas for profit before they’d use it in their own grid – apparently.

    • There are many, many things Congress has authorized federal agencies to decide that they should not be deciding. Restrictions on imports and exports of special categories of products fall into that category, in my opinion. But if Dominion could get a better price for its gas from domestic power plants than from the export market, that’s where it should go. Then again, if Dominion is offered a higher price by an overseas buyer despite all the extra costs to liquify and transport the gas, why should we play protectionists here and forbid the transaction?

      • I just disagree and I’m not alone –

        these resources belong first to the US and the reason fossil fuel companies have Eminent Domain is based on the premise that these resources belong first to the US – and are not wholly the province of the private sector.

        I still have not received an answer to why natural gas is not a strategic fuel for upgrading our power grid.

        can you respond?

  9. Gee. Selling our energy to highest foreign bidder. Whatever happened to national security? Utilities love to bring that up when it suits them

    • fossil fuels have ALWAYS been considered strategic resources as far as I know.

      and we are not alone in the world. Russia uses it against other countries that don’t have their own and for years we’ve been terrified that the Middle East will cut off supplies and make us ration as we did in the 70s’.

      So it’s a real eye-opener for someone to say it’s “fungible” …

      how do you value a resources that is not replaceable?

      I understand that those seeking profit say it’s value is whatever others are willing to pay for it but those folks are focused only on their own financial interests not what is important to the country – especially longer term even to other industries that are adversely affected by the price of fossil fuels.

      so I just respectfully disagree with Acbar – and I note that a series of POTUS administrations and Congress also do not agree.

      Perhaps I’m just ignorant about this and Acbar is more savvy.. but he’s going to have to prove it beyond just a flat statement that energy is “fungible”.

      😉

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