Bacon Bits: Dominion Energy Updates

Holy mackerel, is this for real? After years of controversy, Dominion Energy finally built its $400 million electric transmission line across a historic stretch of the James River, ensuring a secure supply of electricity to the Virginia Peninsula. Now a legal challenge puts the project in jeopardy — after the transmission line has been built! It is not clear whether an unfavorable court ruling would require Dominion to tear down the line, reports The Virginia Mercury. Whether you’re pro-Dominion or anti-Dominion, there is something acutely dysfunctional about a system of governance that would allow a power company to build a $400 million transmission line and then force the company to tear it down.

Step aside, Uber! Step aside, Tesla! With financial support from Dominion Energy, Fairfax County will launch a self-driving, electric-powered shuttle between the Dunn Loring Metro station and the Mosaic District, reports WTOP. The Fairfax County bus would be the first state-funded autonomous electric shuttle for public use in Virginia, and the first to run on roads that are open to the public. I have no idea if this idea will prove to be economically sustainable. But I do believe in small experiments. It makes far more sense to test the concept than to roll out a full-fledged program. Test. Learn. Modify. Test again. Scale up when you’ve got it right.

Pumped storage or battery storage? Having eliminated a proposed Wise County location from consideration, Dominion Energy has narrowed its search for a hydroelectric pumped-storage site to Tazewell County, reports the Roanoke Times. In theory, the proposed pumped-storage facility — which would produce 3,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 750,000 homes — would provide Dominion a source of backup power to supplement intermittent solar and wind power. Here’s the trick: The project would cost $2 billion. Renewable energy advocates say battery storage, though not economically feasible today for purposes of supply shifting, could become far more economical in the future as technology advances and costs go down. On the other hand, while battery storage looks promising, there are no guarantees of future performance. The big question: Should Virginians go with a proven technology or a promising-but-unproven technology?

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29 responses to “Bacon Bits: Dominion Energy Updates

  1. re: ” there is something acutely dysfunctional about a system of governance that would allow a power company to build a $400 million transmission line and then force the company to tear it down.”

    They’re not going to tear it down -but they may have to re-locate part of it.

    The thing is that the opponents found out that the approval was not kosher and they made that claim early on and Dominion ignored it and went forward. So what is really “dysfunctional” about this and the ACP is the way that Dominion went about it – doing end-runs – that would have worked had the opponents not had money and patience to fight.

    Dominion guessed wrong. They KNEW they were skating but they miscalculated about the opponents and courts.

  2. re: pumped storage.

    We need to know how much land is involved and how many people live on that land and if they are going to be compensated by negotiated prices or will Dominion rely on Eminent Domain – again?

    The thing about solar is that it generates power at the same time there is peak demand – if you use solar to “store” power during the day when it generates – that pumped storage is usually not needed at night.

    It’s bass-ackwards to regular pump storage which generates during the day when peak demand occurs and then uses excess power at night to pump the water back for the next day.

    This is another example of why Virginia needs to have an independent 3rd party do the analysis and not Dominion. They have clear conflicts here and I don’t trust for a minute their “analysis”.

    • Wrong again.

      Solar production peaks around noon — when the sun is at its height in the sky. Summer electric consumption peaks later in the afternoon when temperatures are highest. The purpose of pumped storage is to shift load three or four hours later in the day.

      • Jim – the ORIGINAL purpose of pump storage is to generate during the day where there is demand and then pump back up at night from nukes that are not needed.

        The point is that it’s during the day that higher demand for electricity is usually needed and it’s at night when demand is decreased.

        So solar generates during the day – when demand is usually higher and solar goes away at night when demand is lowest.

        So if you use solar – during the day when it is generating to pump water back to the top – you’ve wasted that solar because after you’ve pumped the water during the day and nights falls – solar goes away and the demand for electricity is lower – i.e. you do not need to generate electricity from hydro.

        You’re saying “shift during the day” – but geeze guy – when exactly would you use solar to pump the water back up? Whenever daytime demand reduces to a point that excess solar is available to pump? And then after the reservoir is pumped full during the day – what do you do with that full reservoir at night – save it for the next day when there is demand? Okay – then what do you do with the solar during the day when the hydro is generating?

        Don’t you see this? You’re basically buying into the idea that solar will be used to “store” electricity – but it’s bass ackwards to typical daily demands.

  3. The purpose of pumped storage was to absorb the excess production from nuclear plants during the night for reuse during the peaks when energy is more valuable and its higher cost can offset the efficiency losses in pumping the water uphill.

    You ask:

    Should Virginians go with a proven technology or a promising-but-unproven technology?

    I would say go with the proven technology, which is battery storage, rather than the unproven technology that Dominion is suggesting to use for the new pumped storage facility (according to press stories it is a German technology that proved to be highly expensive).

    PJM has deployed batteries cost-effectively for several years and the cost is going down by 50% every 4-5 years. PJM also has a rule-making process under review to create a storage market. Battery storage is going like gangbusters in other states. It is only in Virginia that we say it is unproven and expensive. Batteries are constantly charging and discharging, something that is not possible with pumped storage. Batteries also provide many valuable services such as voltage and frequency regulation which the pumped storage facility does not provide.

    The best place to deploy storage is within the distribution system, as with other distributed resources. The most cost-effective way to do it is to have customers install it to reduce their costs at no expense to other ratepayers. Commercial and industrial customers would install batteries to store up self-generated energy or grid energy during lower usage periods and discharge it during peak usage to reduce their demand charges. This would dramatically reduce customer utility bills, at no cost to other ratepayers.

    The new pumped storage proposal is far outside Dominion’s service territory and will require new transmission (and associated losses) that will add to Dominion’s coffers but cost the ratepayers. At a current estimate of $2 billion, it would require a stream of customer payments of about $8 billion. This doesn’t makes sense unless you are seeing it from the shareholders’ perspective.

    • Tom, battery storage today is overwhelmingly used for voltage and frequency regulation, not load shifting. That may change, but that’s the reality today.

      • A quibble, but storage shifts supply, not load.

        Jim, you are correct that there is a lot of distributed battery storage in substations on the distribution system of retail utilities like Vepco, and those batteries are used to provide stability to the system, through VAR support and other ancillary services. But Tom is talking about a different kind of storage, in bulk at the transmission level, supplying the grid with time-shifted generation — that is, absorbing and resupplying solar generation after dark. There’s a bunch of this kind of battery storage in California and in Texas, where the big wind farms are, and bulk power battery storage can be found in parts of PJM where there is a lot more renewable energy than in Virginia. On the grid today, bulk storage in batteries is close to competitive with new generation.

        So why pumped storage? There is nothing inferior about pumped hydroelectric storage once you’ve got it; but building it involves a huge up front capital investment. Not only that, it’s a capital investment which probably will cease to make sense ten or five years from now (if it’s not already obsolete) because the cost of batteries is dropping so steadily; but if DOM gets the SCC’s go-ahead, that investment in pumped storage will be amortized and reflected in DOM’s ratepayers’ bills for 50 years or so.

        Do you see a pattern here? DOM loves to invest heavily at ratepayer expense. NA3 for example; or Brunswick Station, or all that “grid modernization.” While other utilities are buying an increasing share of their bulk power from the grid, from wholesale markets, from independent generators willing to finance these new sources on a competitive basis, DOM uses its ratepayers as the cash cow to build those new sources itself — without financing risk, without risk of obsolescence, but with a “guaranteed” rate of return for shareholders on that investment. Moreover it’s not just any investment but “cadillacs” when “plymouths” or rental cars would do, paying up front for a lower operating cost that will help with DOM’s cash flow for years after the investment, not to mention, will please a few legislators in the Tazewell region where it will be built. Is this a good deal for the ratepayers? The question is whether the SCC will even look at the grid alternatives, or simply dismiss independent generation and the grid itself as “unreliable” and take DOM’s choices as the only (politically) safe path forward.

  4. The purposed of that pumped storage proposal is to take dollars from Eastern VA and No Va ratepayers, spend them on a gigantic white elephant far from Dominion’s service territory, and buy the political loyalty of SW Va legislators who will happily vote in the future to burn……Eastern VA and No Va ratepayers. It worked with the Virginia City coal plant and here we go again. And of course there is a profit margin on any equity used for capital.

    The amount of “line loss” of power because of the transmission distances, mentioned by Tom above, will be confidential and hidden from us during the case.

    It the project made sense without guaranteed funding from ratepayer/patsies, if they built it as a merchant plant with their own stockholders taking the risk, hey – no problem. But it won’t work that way.

    I’m with Tom and the comparison with a battery option needs to be done, and I suspect battery will win. This idea is a shameless boondoggle.

    • Right. I am not even sure we need the batteries, since we are already world leader in pumped storage. Also the first question I would ask is, if we need more pumped storage, how much could our existing plants (Smith Mtn Lake/Bath) be expanded with some investment?

      But when it comes to utilities, there is much political support for big expensive projects. So it boils down to, pick one, cause we’re going to build it (for some unkown reason).

  5. This is the part that Jim refuses to acknowledge:

    ” Do you see a pattern here? DOM loves to invest heavily at ratepayer expense. NA3 for example; or Brunswick Station, or all that “grid modernization.” While other utilities are buying an increasing share of their bulk power from the grid, from wholesale markets, from independent generators willing to finance these new sources on a competitive basis, DOM uses its ratepayers as the cash cow to build those new sources itself — without financing risk, without risk of obsolescence, but with a “guaranteed” rate of return for shareholders on that investment. ”

    Even though Dominion no longer sponsors this blog – Jim – the supposed free-market Libertarian, continues to support their totally predatory and uncompetitive behaviors instead of free markets and competition.

    Dominion has a monopoly for BASIC generic electricity – per actual need – and instead they continue to try to expand their monopoly into areas that should not be a monopoly – like this STUPID pump-storage idiocy… they want to put the costs of this on their ratepayers – and they simply don’t care if it actually is useful or cost-effective or not.

    Jim, as a supposed free-market guy should be all over this – and instead he continues to advocate for Dom’s out-of-control behaviors !!!! LORD!

  6. Gotta side with Jim, on this Larry. My antenna are always out. Jim just looks like he’s taking Dominion’s POV because he does reach out and quote their POV. I believe we (me, Acbar, TomH, Rowinguy, a few others) have educated him a bit and he’s not quite so ready to ACCEPT their POV. But he does seek to get it out there, perhaps as a balance to me, which I think is fine.

    But being a lib, of course, you are offended merely to see a POV that upsets you…that’s the SOP today, shut the other side up entirely, crush them out of sight. Jim and I will have adjoining bunks in the reeducation camp, I’m sure…..just please put Botkins a few bunks away! 🙂

    • Thank you, Steve, you have it exactly right.

    • re: ” I believe we (me, Acbar, TomH, Rowinguy, a few others) have educated him a bit and he’s not quite so ready to ACCEPT their POV. But he does seek to get it out there, perhaps as a balance to me, which I think is fine.”

      Oh I think Jim has been citing Doms POV – BEFORE you signed on to BR Steve!

      See the thing is Jim says he is a free-market libertarian and in my mind he should be on the side of folks like Tom instead of they having to “educate” him.

      The two sides BTW – over at Power for the People – that’s the “balance” …. “liberal POV” I think you call it… I’m not that far left as they are but I see them as a legitimate counter to the mostly PRO DOM stuff we see here!

      TomH posted this: ” ” Do you see a pattern here? DOM loves to invest heavily at ratepayer expense. NA3 for example; or Brunswick Station, or all that “grid modernization.” While other utilities are buying an increasing share of their bulk power from the grid, from wholesale markets, from independent generators willing to finance these new sources on a competitive basis, DOM uses its ratepayers as the cash cow to build those new sources itself — without financing risk, without risk of obsolescence, but with a “guaranteed” rate of return for shareholders on that investment. ”

      I agree with it. Never seen Jim B say it or anything close to it. Does that make TomH a “liberal” also?

      😉

  7. My, what a nasty and mean-spirited debate. I love it! I’m no expert but I would think that locating a pumped storage project in SW VA would make sense from a practical point of view since you’d have valleys with steep sides . Building another Lake Anna would be hard. When was the last time anyone built pumped storage anyway? It sounds like so 1960s. Batteries are the future. I agree that Jim and Steve should be sent to reeducation camps but I wouldn’t want to Bunk with Botkins either.

  8. Being a novice in this area of energy and regulation, I welcome hearing both points of view. In a debate, both sides need to be represented. It helps to hear the Dominion POV and the questions posed and the rebuttals, along with the evidence to back up the rebuttals.

  9. Acbar and Steve are correct. The new pumped storage facility is unnecessary and designed to be a new source of long-term profits for Dominion disguised as an economic development project for SW Virginia at ratepayers’ expense.

    We need to think strategically and long-term about this. Virginia and the nation have an impending cliff ahead of it. About 19% of electricity in the U.S. is currently generated by nuclear power. The 99 reactors currently operating in the U.S. are an average of 37 years old. Forty-eight of them are 40-49 years old. Some of the oldest are in Virginia. The first Surry unit was built in 1972 and will be 60 years old when its current operating license expires in 2032.

    Nuclear plants throughout the country are struggling to compete with low-cost gas-fired generation and renewables. Six reactors have been retired since 2012 with seven more expected soon. One-third of the fleet of 99 nuclear units is expected retire within the next decade or two.

    This is happening worldwide. Germany has 8 reactors currently in service that provide 13% of the nation’s electricity. The last unit is expected to retire by 2022. Switzerland has 5 nuclear reactors that provide 40% of its electricity, but those units are scheduled for retirement too. France, Europe’s leading nuclear proponent has announced that it will reduce its nuclear fleet from providing 75% of its energy to 50% by 2025. Although, recently the French have expressed concerns about whether this schedule is too aggressive and might cause supply shortages.

    Japan has restarted just 5 of its 42 reactors since the Fukushima disaster, which has cost $180 billion to cleanup, so far. Many of the remaining reactors are not expected to return to service.

    Decommissioning a nuclear plant is no easy task. The costs are estimated to be at least $1 billion per reactor. Although, the last nuclear plant in California scheduled to retire in California by 2025 has estimated the cost of decommissioning its two reactors to be $4.4 billion.

    India, Russia, and China are adding nuclear units, but costs continue to increase.

    Hopes of reviving the U.S. nuclear industry have floundered. Duke and Dominion proposed new nuclear units but abandoned the projects, leaving ratepayers with hundreds of millions in added costs with no benefits in return. We all know about the Summer fiasco in South Carolina that brought SCANA to its knees and made it a cheap takeover target for Dominion. The new Vogtle units in Georgia are years behind schedule with costs continuing to spiral out of control.

    That is the nub of the issue with nuclear. With low-cost gas-fired generation and cheap renewables, nuclear units are no longer cost-competitive. Most of them are being propped up with subsidies of one sort or another. Dominion owns the Millstone nuclear plant in Connecticut, as a merchant generator. The Wall Street Journal called it the “most profitable nuclear plant in America” a few years back. But Dominion lobbied the state legislature for over a year, claiming the plant was “at risk”. They said they were willing to close the facility, unless they received concessions from the state. A ten-year deal was struck that increased the plant’s revenues and Dominion agreed to continue its operation.

    This year, three of FirstEnergy’s nuclear plants in Ohio did not clear PJM’s capacity auction. PJM had more than enough capacity offered in this year’s auction to meet peak requirements, plus a generous 21.5% reserve margin that allowed additional units to clear.

    An industry expert noted, “Grid experts have proven time and time again that FirstEnergy plants are not needed for reliability or resilience.” There is already a surplus of energy In PJM, which why a number of units did not clear the capacity auction.

    Dominion is projecting that it will cost $4 billion to refurbish its Surry and North Anna reactors to qualify for another 20 years of operation. Anyone familiar with nuclear construction knows that this cost won’t hold up. But even if it does, it is far higher per MW than the Greensville plant that recently went into service for at least 40 years compared to the 20 year-period authorized for the nuclear units.

    Based on Dominion’s estimates, the refurbished units will not be able to generate at a competitive rate in the energy market. Dominion doesn’t care because it will make at least $8 billion in profits from these renewals and will only need to recover its fuel and O&M costs from PJM’s energy markets. This is yet another good deal for Dominion that will be mighty expensive for its customers.

    Most of the new projects proposed by Dominion will be a boon to its shareholders but a burden to its ratepayers.

    We can replace the need for the nuclear units with a more reliable source of energy that can cost us nothing, if we do it right. This would be a long-term program of energy efficiency, mostly accomplished by others and not the utility and put in the rate base (which costs us a bundle). This program needs to get underway soon to have enough time to fully displace the output of the nuclear units.

    Without the nuclear units, the Bath Pumped Storage facility would begin to have available capacity not long after the new pumped storage project in SW Virginia is scheduled to come on line. Eventually, the largest pumped storage facility in the world would need a source of generation to pump it up. This could be accomplished with a combination of gas-fired and renewable sources.

    If Virginia decides to develop its offshore wind resources through a PPA at about 6 cents/kWh (which is close to current bids farther north of us), this would be a very cost-effective resource since wind output is often highest at night.

    Solar and battery combinations are continuing to drop in price. Xcel Energy received proposals for 238 projects due to be in operation in 2023. Onshore wind came in the lowest at $18.10 per megawatt-hour, wind with battery storage at $21, solar alone at $29.50, and wind, solar and battery storage at $30.60. These are commercial contracts obligating the developer to provide power at the specified rate. Compare this to Lazard’s LCOE estimate for gas-fired combined cycle plants in the $65-$80 /MWh range.

    Refurbished nuclear units cannot provide electricity at anywhere near this price range. Probably double the price of gas-fired units and 4 times higher than the renewable/battery combinations.

    See https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/record-low-solar-plus-storage-price-in-xcel-solicitation#gs.dpd32d

    The new pumped storage project is superfluous; a boondoggle; great for shareholders, but disastrous for ratepayers.

    We have to wake up to the fact that this is not your father’s energy system anymore. We must go beyond what we did in the 20th century and embrace the solutions at hand. Continuing to subsidize nuclear is “like asking customers to pay more to subsidize landline phones or camera film while cell phones and digital cameras are better products that are winning in the competitive markets,” according to an industry observer.

  10. So.. here’s a compromise proposal.

    How about letting TOM H author some posts on this subject?

    I realize this might be viewed as elevating a “liberal” to do BR posts and that has a blasphemous odor to it… but………

    There is a huge GAP between what Jim B writes mostly and often from Doms POV and what Tom H writes – NOT from a Dom POV – which adds a whole different dimension.

    Like Tom, I want to see Dom continue to be a strong and capable company that we can rely on to provide reliable electricity – no question what-so-ever. They are GOOD at what they do. To be fair – so are the other dozen or so Co-op providers in Virginia.

    But it’s more than clear that their perceived mission is to expand their monopoly into other areas that disadvantage ratepayers as well as would-be competitors.

    When Dom writes an “analysis” of things like the ACP, or coal ash cleanup, NA3 or wind or solar or their IRP – none of it is really objective – it’s the world according to Dom.

    And we know that more often than not – when TomH, Acbar, Rowinguy weigh in with fact-based comments to help keep the Dom perspective in check and balanced.

  11. Going back and reading TomH commentary on the Nukes is a bit worrisome in some respects but also raises questions in others.

    The Nukes run 24/7 at one speed (as far as I know). They generate the same power during the day and at night. They essentially provide the “base” power 24/7 and other generation from other sources gets “layered” on top of that. (or correct me ….. ).

    I’m not convinced that we have decades of unlimited quantities of cheap gas and especially so in Europe where a lot of it seems to come from Russia and others.

    I also wonder why we have never developed a nuke design that is safer – won’t melt down – and thus a lot of the costs associated with security and safeguards to keep them from melting down.

    If we got smaller nukes that would not melt down – how would that change things with regard to natural gas (a fossil fuel) that emits GHG and nukes that generate waste but not GHG?

    And in a non-Nuke world – what powers the night – gas and wind?

    Of course if Gas gets scarce – and more expensive – it will drive customers to more energy efficiency all on their own without Dom’s involvement.

    One thing is for sure – you won’t get any of these answers from Doms IRP and that’s a problem because we really don’t have a “plan”and that does work to Dom’s advantage in the GA. They’re the only game in town and only “liberals” are in the opposition!

    And Jim – I apologize for giving you a hard time.

  12. “In a non-nuke world, what powers the night — gas and wind?”
    No, gas, wind, and solar that’s time-shifted via batteries and existing pumped storage.

    I believe that batteries will someday become a commonplace, a mainstay, of powering our grid — but they are burdened today with obsolete technology. Lithium ion technology is way too expensive and unstable enough to cause fires and has somewhat limited recharge cycles; but it’s the best we’ve got. There are batteries in the r&d pipeline that will put Li+ to shame; but they are always “in a year or two.” Batteries today are where solar was five years ago; and solar’s take-off has only increased the need for a battery technology breakthrough. I am convinced that we will see one soon.

    As of right now DOM can make a credible pitch to the SCC on amortizing/depreciating 1/50th of the capital cost per year of a pumped storage project in its first few years of operations. But pay for that investment year after year, for 50 years? No way batteries aren’t going to undercut the cost of carrying that investment exponentially as they are already undercutting it slightly even with Li+ technology. Yet DOM wiil hold ratepayers to their “bargain” for the entire amortization period; and shareholders will take that “guaranteed return” as dividends to the bank. The risk of obsolescence is too great to build something as expensive as pumped storage for ratepayers to amortize over 50 years. “White elephant” is putting it mildly!

    Larry, you say, “TomH posted this: ‘Do you see a pattern here? DOM loves to invest heavily at ratepayer expense. . . .'” I don’t want TomH to take the blame for my words although in truth we are largely in agreement on that comment. But, don’t blame DOM. Dominion, like any corporation, is duty bound to do what’s good for shareholders. It is the VSCC that is obligated to restrain Dominion and even inflict financial pain if Dominion’s pursuit of profit for shareholders diverges from what is in the ratepayers’ best interest. It’s the GA that has short-circuited the VSCC’s ability and will to do its job. Sure, DOM’s lobbyists have a hand in that, but they should never have been allowed to do so; that’s a form of corruption pure and simple. So, blame the GA; join the chorus with DJR about the “imperial clown show,” take up the Haner transparency cudgel against the back room committee deals that currently rule the GA’s cozy roost. The problem is the GA. The problem is Virginia lobbying laws, and Virginia legislation limiting the VSCC in unseemly ways. The problem is, accepting political favors across the State at ratepayer expense. The problem is both parties (although a regime change may be coming to Richmond that will sweep aside even Mr. Saslaw). Again, the problem is the GA; but there are interesting times ahead — beginning this November.

  13. Hear, hear Acbar.

    Larry,
    You attached a label to me, which is your prerogative to do. However, I try to avoid them myself. It’s my intention to explore a variety of ideas and support the best person or solution as I see it at the time. I attempt to deal with energy issues in a non-partisan way. I think it is in everyone’s interest to provide our energy in a lower-cost more reliable way, that is more in harmony with living systems, and allows greater options for consumers while creating plentiful jobs and a more vital economy. It still puzzles me why there is so much opposition to that approach, but we all have our opinions about the matter.

    As I have said many times before, we need financially healthy utilities but not at the expense of their ratepayers.

    Until we get new rules that realign the interests of the people with the interests of our organizations, those with money and power will tilt the tables in their favor.

    We have to get the money out of politics and make it so our politicians can represent their constituents, not their benefactors.

    By the way, the new, safer modular reactors are being tested in France, but like their predecessors, the project is six years behind schedule and 300% over budget.

    I am concerned about a technology that is inflexible in its operation, complex in its design, deployed only at the transmission level in big chunks (even if less big), and vulnerable to significant fuel price manipulation by the Russians.

    Although many of the new technologies still leave a good bit to be desired, they are evolving rapidly and falling in price. Only by embracing them can we work out their shortcomings and develop the much better solutions that will soon appear.

    • Tom, I apologize for the (tongue in cheek) label.

      Your commentary in this response is consistent with most of your prior commentary which I agree with – but if I echo it – I get called a “liberal” for that commentary when I combine it with criticism of Dom.

      I see with Acbars post the specific complaint about the pump-storage concept – done the Dominion “way”.

      I’m still not on board with using pump-storage as a battery to “store” energy from solar … it might make sense using nighttime wind then use hydro to generate power during daytime demand.

      I still wonder if solar can be used to “crack” water into hydrogen and oxygen some day; if that technology has a breakthrough on an economic way to do it – it changes everything – it becomes a “revolution” in energy – and it might save the earth as a side benefit!

      I very much value your posts and again apologize if I have offended.

    • “I still wonder if solar can be used to “crack” water into hydrogen and oxygen some day” — yes, some day, and now also! The point is not to pair the solar plant physically with the H2O electrolysis plant, but simply to connect them both to the same grid. If there’s enough solar, then electricity on the grid will be cheap at noon, and expensive in the evening. If that price difference is persistent, somebody will build supply-shifting (storage) equipment to take advantage of it. Whether that supply shift is obtained from batteries or hydroelectric pumped storage or H2O electrolysis > hydrogen >> fuel-cell > electricity is simply a matter of which costs the most to store and then get the same amount of mWh back when you want it.

      From an grid operational point of view, converting electricity to hydrogen and back to electricity is more complicated and, today, more expensive than battery storage. Pumped hydroelectric storage is vastly more expensive than batteries to build, but no more expensive to operate, and there are no batteries to replace periodically. A grid operator will think of pumped storage and a bulk-power battery installation as close equivalents.

  14. So… Acabar and Tom think that the pump-storage done the way Dominion wants to is ..wrong… so I ask if an independent 3rd party did it – would it 1. work? 2. be acceptable?

    When I say “work”, I mean functionally and financially.

    In other words, could a 3rd party buy power from PJM to pump water to the top reservoir and then sell the hydro-generated to PJM – at a profit?

    Does that “work”?

    • No. The price difference of PJM power between when it’s cheapest and when it is most expensive is rarely enough, for enough hours, to pay the owner of a storage facility the operating income required to pay 1) operating expenses, 2) the carrying cost of the investment (e.g., debt and dividends), and 3) a reasonable profit to the owner. As PJM gains more and more solar facilities the cheapest grid power (which is now usually in the middle of the night) will become the middle of the day when the solar is available. When that happens the operating income to a storage facility owner may rise and I expect there will be some battery banks constructed to take advantage of that; but at the same time, the incentive to build more solar on the PJM grid will be depressed and solar construction will stabilize at a level that still rewards solar facility owners to earn some income. If that level of solar penetration allows enough income to solar owners and to the storage owner to pay both a profit, then that’s what we will get. This is how the wholesale electricity market is supposed to work, by balancing out these factors and coming up with electricity at the least-cost-overall.

      • So Pump Storage will not “work” in PJM or free market?

        What happened to all those Conservatives in the GA who say government should not be subsidizing or picking winners/losers?

        What happened to Jim Bacon – the free market Libertarian on this issue?

        Surely – he could have/should have asked the same question about whether pump storage was a viable economic concept, right?

        I mean, heckfire – he questions Economic Development in general…and all those incentives and grants to prospective businesses but when it comes to Dominion and pump storage (and other) it’s like crickets!

  15. Dam the Potomac at Great Falls and generate hydro power! Why am I the only person on this blog who can come up with sensible solutions to these problems?

    What? An ancient version of the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond gave the Potomac River to Maryland? Darn. Guess we’ll need to dam the James River below Richmond instead.

    On a more serious note – whatever happened to the idea of using tides to generate electricity?

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