Category Archives: Energy

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.

Continue reading

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.”

Continue reading

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

Dominion Announces Support for Carbon Tax

Dominion Energy has joined a coalition of 13 corporations and four leading environmental groups in support of a carbon tax and other measures designed to reduce CO2 emissions. The group, known as the CEO Climate Dialogue, has set a goal of achieving economy-wide reductions of 80% or more by 2050, with aggressive near- and mid-term emission reductions commensurate with that goal.

The group “aims to build bipartisan support for climate policies that will increase regulatory and business certainty, reduce climate risk, and spur investment and innovation needed to meet science-based emissions reduction targets,” according to a press release issued yesterday.

The CEO Dialogue listed six principles to guide federal legislation: Continue reading

Anthropogenic Global Warming Is Real. Now What?

Four hundred and fifteen. US News & World Report is reporting that the amount of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere reached more than 415 parts per million. The article quotes research from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography from May 11.  Historical levels of CO2 in the atmosphere were measured through core ice samples prior to 1958 and directly from the Mauna Loa Observatory from 1958 onward. Take a close look at the graph accompanying this article. At first it’s hard to see the vertical line streaking skyward at the right edge. That’s CO2 emissions. From historical peaks oscillating between 250 ppm and 300 ppm over the last 800,000 years to over 415 ppm today. If that isn’t sufficiently startling, the annual peaks over the past few years: 2015 – 405, 2016 – 409, 2017 – 413, 2018 – 413, 2019 – 415 (so far).

Nobody wants anthropogenic global warming to be true but it is true. Continue reading

Three 2016 Dominion Solar Plants Missed Targets

Dominion’s Scott Solar Facility in Powhatan Co.

Some of Dominion Energy Virginia’s recent solar installations, despite using technology designed to track the moving sun, have turned in disappointing energy results, fueling skepticism at the State Corporation Commission toward the utility’s claims for future solar energy success.  Continue reading

SCC Demanding Data in Future EE, DSM Cases

Two recent State Corporation Commission rulings on utility-sponsored energy efficiency and demand management programs produced contrary results for the applicants but a consistent theme of SCC skepticism in the absence of hard data and a demand for more data going forward.

The SCC last week approved all eleven new or continued programs proposed by Dominion Energy Virginia, which will cost its customers up to $226 million over five years.  That May 2 opinion is here.  But an April 30 opinion (here) rejected much of a similar request from Washington Gas and Light, citing a lack of specific results data from that company’s customers.  Continue reading

Left-Right Coalition Urges Electric Deregulation

In the mid-1980s William W. Berry, president of Dominion Energy predecessor Vepco, championed the cause of deregulating electricity markets. He proposed breaking the electricity industry into separate components: generation, transmission, and retail distribution. Only retail electric lines, he suggested, were a “natural” monopoly. Berry’s vision, which was never fully executed in Virginia, bore strong similarities to the proposals outlined today by the Virginia Energy Reform Coalition (VERC).

VERC, a coalition of free-market, environmental and anti-poverty groups, is calling for a massive restructuring of Virginia’s system of regulated electric utilities. The existing monopoly structure is “broken,” argued a series of speakers at a noon press conference, because politically powerful utilities utilize campaign contributions and their lobbying clout to advance their interests in the General Assembly at the expense of the public. Continue reading

Dominion Tool? The GA Is an Entire Toolbox

Retiring state Senator Frank Wagner gets appointed to some job by Governor Ralph Northam Friday and the headline on Blue Virginia labels him a “Dominion tool.” But has the other legislator being rewarded with a full-time job, Delegate Mathew James, cast any votes against the state’s favorite political whipping boy?  Continue reading

Is the Goal Cutting CO2 or Imposing a Tax?

While it would have been a popular step with his political base, and one he was expected to take, Governor Ralph Northam may have been smart to pass on seeking to veto state budget language preventing Virginia membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  Continue reading

Utility-Sponsored Energy Efficiency Benefits the Commonwealth

by Chelsea Harnish

The stage is set for a total transformation of the energy-efficiency industry in Virginia. With the passage of the Grid Transformation and Security Act of 2018, the electric utilities in Virginia have committed to proposing over $1 billion for energy-efficiency programs over the next ten years. However, none of these commitments are actually guaranteed.

The Virginia Energy Efficiency Council (VAEEC), a member-based organization headquartered in Richmond, is dedicated to ensuring that these commitments come to fruition. Energy efficiency is one of the easiest, most direct ways to save consumers money on their monthly bills while spurring economic development, cutting emissions, and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Utility-sponsored programs are one of our top priorities, as they are among the largest opportunities to expand energy efficiency in the state. Continue reading

Does Facebook Solar Pay Its Own Way?

Dominion Energy has announced the construction of six new solar farms — three in Virginia and three in North Carolina – to offset the electricity demand of Facebook data centers in the two states. The 590 megawatts of new renewable energy generation will be enough to power 147,000 homes at peak output.

The partnership will support Dominion’s goal of having 3,000 megawatts of new solar and wind energy in operation or under development by 2022 and Facebook’s goal of supporting its  global operations with 100% renewable energy by the end of 2020. (See the press release here.)

In the abstract, I’m all in favor of generating electricity with clean, renewable energy sources like solar. But I’m still trying to understand the implications of the solar rush for grid stability and ratepayers. Continue reading