Category Archives: Energy

Dominion Seeks To Add Carbon Tax In Fuel Factor

Dominion Energy Virginia is taking advantage of its annual, and usually boring, fuel cost review to move the cost of any future carbon tax or emissions allowances out of its fixed base rates and into its variable fuel charge. If the State Corporation Commission agrees it could either lower or raise your bill someday but place your bets on the latter.

The case (here) has also drawn testimony that Dominion has so much natural gas capacity under contract in existing pipelines that it is selling the excess capacity to others – about 25 percent of it, in the case of the Transco pipeline. It needs no more capacity, according to a witness hired by environmental groups.

UPDATE:  Through a Twitter response I’m told that Dominion has notified other parties it will withdraw the request to place any future CO2 costs into the fuel charge,  and the document I missed has been flagged.  So the “is” in the lede paragraph is now a “was.”  I’ll leave the story up because it remains something to watch. 

The utility is allowed a dollar-for-dollar recovery of its fuel costs, with no added profit. Every year it makes a forward estimate of what it will spend on coal, natural gas, uranium fuel, purchased power and related inputs (including contracts for transportation). That amount is then adjusted up and down based on the results from the prior year. The result is costing you 2.7 cents per kWh this year and a projected 2.42 cents per kWh next year.

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Natural Gas Shortage? What Natural Gas Shortage?

Chickahominy LLC’s natural gas-powered generating plant would dwarf Dominion Energy’s Greensville facility (shown here), currently the state’s largest gas-generating plant.

by Peter Galuszka

Historic and quaint Charles City County southeast of Richmond is home to a number of restored plantations, Native American tribes and, its centerpiece, the placid, marsh-lined Chickahominy River. Yet, quietly and without much media attention, Charles City is on its way to becoming a fossil fuel powerhouse as two proposed natural gas plants move forward.

On June 21, the Air Pollution Control Board voted 6-1 to grant Chickahominy L.L.C. a permit to build a 1,650-megawatt natural gas generating station. If built, the plant would be the largest fossil fuel generating station in the state, surpassing Dominion Virginia Power’s 1,640-megawatt Chesterfield power station that is largely coal-fired. Also planned for Charles City County is a 1,100-megawatt natural gas generating plant planned by Michigan-based NOVI Energy.

The plants will tap a Virginia Natural Gas pipeline linked to the giant Transco pipeline that runs through from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast. The electricity will apparently be supplied to the PJM grid that runs from Illinois to the East Coast. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Which Would You Prefer: Pipelines or Trucks?

Scania LNG trucks

Don’t like gas pipelines? Maybe you’ll like LNG trucks better.

As the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline endure the legal agonies of the damned here in Virginia — the odds are increasing that neither will be built — a Pennsylvania company has begun liquefying natural gas for delivery by tractor-trailer.

Edge Gathering Virtual Pipelines 2 LLC began well-site production of LNG and making truck-delivered LNG sales in May. States a company press release: “Without the need for pipeline access, EDGE expects to make LNG a viable and competitive physical energy solution for end-use consumers and gas utilities across the U.S.”

Within the next year, EDGE expects to obtain and deploy a fleet of LNG-fueled tractors, to make customer deliveries even more cost effective. Continue reading

Fix the General Assembly, Then Tackle Energy Bill

It has been over a month since a coalition of unnatural allies announced a proposal to revise Virginia’s electricity regulation system – again – but the idea dropped from view fairly quickly. One of the main and most visible proponents, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, has now taken on a very different role in the Trump Administration.

As I wrote in Sunday’s Washington Post (here), the ideas in the document itself need to remain on the shelf until the General Assembly and the rest of the Richmond establishment are less influenced by the various high-dollar players mixing profit and ideology in this effort. There also needs to be a more robust voice speaking only for consumers, a voice that actually gets heard.

Do what we’ve done before and we get what we’ve gotten before – a hit on consumers that enriches the moneyed interests. That happened in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018.   Continue reading

More (But Not All) Cost Projections Filed About Ratepayer Bill Transformation Act

Source: SCC Staff summary. Click for larger view.

With some of its closest legislative allies facing primary challenges next week, much of what Dominion Energy Virginia filed Friday in response to questions about the consumer cost of its future plans is redacted.  The story in Tuesday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch (here) could only cover that portion of the data not kept secret.

Three of the four documents filed by Dominion are about its motion requesting protected status for the information, and the fourth (here) includes numerous blacked out portions, which we will not see unless the SCC rejects those motions.  Continue reading

Rider E Case Shows Many Flaws With This Process

Key operating data on some Dominion Virginia coal plants, important to the Rider E case but hidden from us. Source: Office of Attorney General testimony.  Click for larger view. 

Dominion Energy Virginia’s pending application for a new charge on electric bills for coal ash remediation is both a fairly routine request and an illustration of what is deeply wrong with Virginia’s electricity regulation.

When the major investor-owned utilities negotiated a return to regulation in 2007, the ability to create and collect these stand-alone add-on charges (“rate adjustment clauses”) was one of their demands.  It was the other major Virginia utility, Appalachian Power Company, that was most concerned about the ability to collect the cost of environmental compliance and it has had a rider on its bills for that purpose for some time.  Continue reading

SCC Again Denies Escape from Dominion Monopoly

SCC: We’re All In This Together

The State Corporation Commission has denied another request from a major Virginia retailer for permission to escape from Dominion Energy Virginia’s monopoly electricity service.   The score for such petitions is now one approval, two denials, and the message is clear to all the other petitioners:  Go fight it out at the General Assembly.

The petition denied today was from Costco, seeking to aggregate 27 of its stores into a single electricity account that met the 5-megawatt demand trigger which allows large customers to seek a competitive supplier.  The final order is here.

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Meet GOP Carbon Tax Advocate Bob Inglis

The Hon. Robert Inglis

There is a hotbed of carbon tax advocacy at George Mason University, led by a former GOP congressman sent packing by South Carolina voters because he’s ready to tax them into loving solar and wind.  Continue reading

Update: Aggregation Petition Moves to Full SCC

If our electric bill rises a nickel, and our grocery bill drops a nickel, do we care?

The debate over retail aggregation and choice for electricity underway at the State Corporation Commission is moving to another decision point, with a hearing examiner’s ruling May 21 on one of the many petitions.  Continue reading

Correction: DLS Was There At Energy Conference

There was a Division of Legislative Services staff person present at the recent National Regulatory Conference in Williamsburg. My piece yesterday was in error.  Attorney Christine Noonan’s name was on the list and I missed it.  She’s been at DLS for a while, but only this session started as staff support for the committees doing energy legislation.  Continue reading

Dominion Responds to Calls for Deregulation

William Murray

Dominion Energy has responded to calls for electric deregulation in the form of an op-ed by William Murray, senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications. His argument: We tried deregulation once, it didn’t work, and the arrangement we have now works just fine.

Electric deregulation was “in fashion” in the 1990s,” he wrote in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “It promised lower prices and more choices for customers. What really happened was something quite different. In fact, electric rates in deregulated states are more than one-third higher today than rates in states that have retained regulation.”

Moreover, Murray argued, 1990s-era deregulation did nothing to make the electric grid stronger, more secure, and more resilient — “pressing needs today in the face of threats such as cyberattacks from hostile nation-states.” To the contrary, deregulation invited predatory players like Enron into the system, leading to price spikes in New England, Maryland, Delaware and California. The outcome in California was particularly disastrous, bringing rollouts and widespread economic chaos.

Maybe his argument stands up, maybe it doesn’t. This may sound like a cop-out, but we need more data.

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VA Energy Regulatory Conference All About Carbon

The Hon. Bernard McNamee, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

WILLIAMSBURG — “The environmentalists don’t want to admit when they’ve won, but they’ve already won.”

That line was delivered by Joseph A. Rosenthal, principal attorney at Connecticut’s Office of Consumer Counsel, during a discussion Thursday on the status electricity grid modernization efforts in his state and several others.  It was a part of a day-and-a-half National Regulatory Conference and William and Mary’s law school which had several nominal topics but was really about carbon regulation.  Continue reading

Cuccinelli to North Carolina on Electricity Regulation – Avoid Virginia’s Mistakes

The Cooch is back. Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli penned an op-ed for the Wilmington, North Carolina based Star News opposing Duke Energy’s proposed changes to electrical regulation.  The title of the opinion piece is, “N.C. should block this Duke Energy power grab”.  Cuccinelli’s biggest issue with the pending regulation is extending the period of time between utility rate cases.  The editorial board of the Star News agrees. Cuccinelli writes:

“Key provisions to extend the period of time between utility company rate cases are embedded within N.C. Senate Bill 559, being debated at the N.C. General Assembly. Similar provisions hurt Virginia customers, and will hurt North Carolina customers, too.”

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Dominion Energy Joins Consortium Demanding Climate Change Legislation

Image credit: Power for the People VA

I am not making this up.  Yesterday, Dominion Energy joined a newly launched coalition of more than a dozen major corporations and environmental groups – CEO Climate Dialog.  This organization will urge Congress to pass climate change legislation.  Example members of the group include BP – an oil and gas company, Citibank, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Exelon – a power company and The Nature Conservancy, an environmental organization. Continue reading