Clean Economy Law Not So Green, Very Expensive

This Would Be You, Virginia

By Steve Haner

Mel Leonor reports in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch that Dominion Energy Virginia and the Green Energy Oligarchs have used the Virginia General Assembly to empty your pockets with a false promise.

According to Dominion’s own information, the highly touted Virginia Clean Energy Act (1) will not result in a total end to fossil fuel generation feeding your homes and businesses and (2) will increase bills by amounts similar to or in excess of the warnings in February from the State Corporation Commission. She writes:

Either way, the company said, customers in Virginia should expect to see their bills rise by as much as 3% a year until 2030, in large part due to infrastructure investments to build solar, offshore wind and battery capacity.

For the average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month, that could mean an increase of $45.92 to their monthly bills, from the current $116.18 per month to $168.58 per month.

The SCC’s estimate of the new legislation’s rate impact was that it would cost residential customers about $28 a month (1,000 kWh) within five years, so Dominion’s projection over ten years is right in line. The SCCs claims have been validated and the false promises of lower costs from advocates exposed. 

In a prior life (30 days ago), I might dig into the case file and dissect the company’s news release and give Bacon’s Rebellion a full report. In the two years following passage of the 2018 abomination I’ve called the Ratepayer Bill Transformation Act, I made a heavy effort to educate the handful of readers about how they were being ripped off and lied to. The passage a few weeks ago of the even worse Clean Energy Boondoggle Act convinced me the effort was futile. Too many people want to be ripped off and lied to.

Most players in this game are profit-driven, and those who are not are suckers, hapless pawns. But the public’s gullibility has been even better demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We jump at the chance to follow a bunch of flawed models over an economic cliff, it seems. How did the song go? “We did it before, and we can do it again.”

I don’t expect to now follow the twists and turns of the integrated resource plan case, or the coming application to start the installation of 5,100 megawatts of only semi-productive offshore wind turbines from Europe. Why keep writing stories I could write today? COVID-19 has demonstrated as well that high blood pressure is a true killer, and this stuff raises mine.

So, enjoy your somewhat greener and way more expensive power. Don’t waste time trying to understand it or complaining to politicians under the thumb of Dominion or the Green Oligarchs. In the intervening weeks, I’ve continued the installation of LED bulbs and now have a price on a gas tankless water heater. I’m sure the next step will be the tax me through my remaining electric bill to buy one for some low-income household. It will be deemed a matter of justice.

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33 responses to “Clean Economy Law Not So Green, Very Expensive

  1. For some fun, watch Michael’s new piece at https://planetofthehumans.com/.

  2. Might check you mat at 3 percent i come up with $3.48 a month more not $45 / month

    • 3% per year for ten years compounded. Innumerate, like most reporters. But I assume the RTD used a number in the filing, not its own calculation.

  3. Yeah, this is “news” how?

    I mean everytime Dominion is asked about something, the standard response is: “It’s gonna cost you”.

    shocking, just SHOCKING!

    What I REALLY was impressed with is that they said that if they have to close down gas plants, they’ll have to IMPORT gas-generated electricity from states that still allow gas generation.

    This is more thumb-in-the-eye posturing by Dominion.

    Increasingly clear, Doms primary strategy to just make things like deregulation, coal-ash cleanup and clean(er) energy just gawd-awful expensive…

    Here’s a much simpler way to see “green” energy.

    If a homeowner can save money on a more efficient furnace or LED lights or solar panels on the roof – a lot of them are going to do it without once thinking what they are doing is “green” except in a money-sense.

    We’re STILL going to need gas-generated electricity unless and until we find a cost-effective way to “store” solar (and that may well happen before 2045) – but as we use less electricity and can generate with solar, we’ll need LESS of gas-generated electricity.

    It’s NOT an all or nothing proposition – never was, except in the minds of those who insist on making it that.

    It’s almost if – if people buy LED lights or get a more efficient furnace that they then become green wackadoodles… nope.. just folks who want to Conserve – that word that used to mean common sense conservation of resources.

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  5. This report by Dominion that it could not meet demand in 2045 if it closed down all its natural gas and coal power plants and, therefore, would need to import power from “carbon-intensive” facilities outside the state puzzled me. I thought the coalition that put together the Virginia Clean Economy Act included Dominion. In fact, the story said that Katharine Bond, a lobbyist for Dominion, “represented the company during negotiations on the new law.” So, did Dominion lie to its negotiating partners and tell them it could meet the demand for no-carbon power or did those partners just not understand what was happening? If I were them, I would be feeling pretty snookered right now.

    I am going to miss your detailed analyses of these issues, Steve. I understand; it was a lot of hard (unpaid) work for it then to be largely ignored.

  6. When Steve Haner gives up the fight, we might as well just submit. Resistance is futile.

  7. What Virginia needs to do is hire an independent consultant to do a legitimate analysis with OPTIONS not just a single bogus end point that insults most folks intelligence – even those who are not “green”.

    Just go back a bit and look at their “analysis” of the costs of the coal ash cleanup and you clearly understand their game.

    For instance, we’re moving coal ash from the sites with dump trunks when the coal itself was brought there on rail…

    Dominion has demonstrated over and over… over and over.. they are not a credible partner in trying to navigate to a better place on energy.

    They’ve demonstrated that they are all-in on a single-minded quest to derive as much value out of their monopoly as they can – whether that is consistent with the public interest or not.

    It’s NOT that it’s “impossible” to get to a zero-pollution end-point. It may well be impossible, probably likely, it’s their attitude towards any plan that tries to get there.. they’re simply not interested in incremental, step-wise changes to move us in that direction.

    And their “firewall” is the Virginia General Assembly. As long as the VGA plays along – the rest of us are pretty much screwed – and by “us” I mean ALL ratepayers, indeed taxpayers, as even those who are not direct Dominion customers are being wagged also.

    I’m also thinking, Steve is not “gone” here… and if it turns out he is – then it will be a loss to BR… and him…….

    • Normally, the Commission staff and the state AG’s office would challenge the filing, along with potential intervenors. But is the VSCC still an independent agency? Has Herring gone totally over to the Virtue Signaling side?

      In the old days, the MSM would dig this apart and we’d all have more information. But when your job is to protect Democrats, that ain’t going to happen.

      • sheesh – where are all the right-wing bloggers on this? You’d think this is the perfect opportunity to nail those vapid virtue signallers to the proverbial wall!

        It was apparently no-one’s “fault” when the GOP had control of the GA, but now that the Dems have control… it’s totally on them, right?

        Plenty of blame for both sides.. if we were really going to be fair and balanced… but then all this partisan stuff would be no fun….

        • For two years I have been consistent in pointing to all legislators voting wrong, regardless of party. Your refusal to ever acknowledge that is high in my list of reasons to quit.

          • You have pointed that out and you’re right. Absent a very small minority of legislators our General Assembly is a bipartisan group of grifters when it comes to Dominion.

          • I was primarily responding to TMT above but I have, over and over asked why the criticism seems so much louder now than before and why it’s now on the Dems when I just do not recall it being that way on the GOP when they were doing their thing.

            I think I have fairly acknowledged here that the Dems are no better than the GOP was – yes, true.

            And no, I’m not taking the blame for your departure… sorry… you’re a big boy… and I’,m sure you’ve had your share of runs-ins with folks who are not on-board with all your views…

        • I’m pro-nuclear electric generation. Does that count?

          • I’m pro nuke with the proviso that conventional nukes right now are totally incompatible with solar/wind because they cannot modulate which means they have to run flat out 24/7 or not run.

            They also are dangerous as hell especially as terrorists targets these days… one drone with the right equipment can cause everything within 50 miles to be evacuated.

            Newer nukes – which are smaller and shut down without melting and can also modulate – we need – and I do believe
            are as important as the efforts towards finding “storeage” for wind/solar.

            until we get one or the other or both – the only fuel that can modulate up and down in response to wind/solar is gas.

            I keep making this point – if wind/solar/nukes were THE answer, we’d see the 10,000 inhabited islands in the world use those sources instead of diesel fuel – which is roughly twice as expensive as gas and as polluting as coal.

        • Larry, I’ve never sung the GOP’s praises on Dominion. But from what I’ve read, this bill that was passed by the GA controlled by the Democrats and signed by Northam takes outrageous to the next level.

          It’s one thing to push renewable energy. It’s another thing to raise everyone’s electric bills unless they install solar knowing well that many people simply cannot do that for a variety of reasons. It’s something else to charge different rates based on race. And ratepayers are stuck with excessively expensive offshore wind energy build.

          • TMT – WHO is saying it will raise electric bills?

          • TooManyTaxes

            “In this century, we now have technologies to produce electricity that are clean and cheap,” Tom Hadwin, a former utility executive who does consulting work for Virginia environmental groups and reviewed the legislation, wrote in an email. “This bill encourages the ‘clean’ but loses the ‘cheap.’”

            “In our view the legislation will prevent the regulator from being able to work to accomplish the Commonwealth’s clean energy goals in a manner consistent with ratepayer protections,” Senior Assistant Attorney General Meade Browder told a Senate committee considering the bill.

            https://apnews.com/cddda59df1d16ec02435f1a3e8e898a7

          • TMT – WHO said the bills would increase?

            The enviros and the Dems wanted clean energy at a fair and reasonable price.

            The precedent for letting Dominion make “profits” was established some time ago when the GOP allowed them to keep the excess profits and the tax rebate and allowed them to make a profit on the coal ash cleanup. AND the SCC was neutered. That all happened BEFORE the Dems having control.

            But now.. all of this is blamed on them and the enviros…

            isn’t this a little like re-writing history?

            Yes, blame the Dems for lacking the spine to finally do what should have been all along… but

            WHERE was the GOP on this? Did they argue against it or did they go along with what Dominion wanted?

            I DO have one comment on renewable energy and that is that it also is implicitly tied to the idea that the utilities should not be making the same profit on it as they have been with fossil fuels – and clearly Dominion got the upper hand on that.

            Virginia can STILL do something about it – by doing PPPs with independent producers but in the end if other states do that and those producers sell to PJM… that power will be cheaper than the profit-laden power than Dominion will produce from offshore wind and solar.

            But Dominion does not care if the renewables fail under their control – they will get full profit for it anyhow.

          • TooManyTaxes

            “Who said electric bills will rise?” Did you read what I posted? Bills are going to increase, according to the AG’s office and Tom Hadwin, for starters.

          • Well $22 not $45.92 … that Dom is saying. I don’t know and I suspect most others do not and I doubt it will be an increase at all if more and more of electricity is coming from solar generated by independent producer from other PJM member states.

            I don’t think they’re gonna raise your rates if you don’t have solar – but I do think that many will install solar to lower their bills – this is going to happen more and more and Dominion is going to try to increase bills to reflect that loss but all that is going to do is encourage more people to figure out how to lower their bills – if not solar then new energy saving technology like LEDs and more efficient HVACs and the like if the cost to install will be less than not installing it.

            I don’t see how there is anything the State can do to stop that and the way things are right now, Dom will get their way anyhow.

            None of this actually has that much to do with solar/wind, it has to do with how Dom behaves corporately and they’re gonna get a much profit as they can from as many ratepayers as they can unless and until enough in the GA stand up and look out for ratepayers.

  8. I have not yet seen this year’s IRP so I do not have the facts to respond to this.

    Just remember that the VCEA, like the GTSA of two years ago, identified many of the provisions of the law as “being in the public interest.” This cuts the SCC out of the picture in determining whether the investments are actually prudent.

    For example, the energy industry (including Dominion) accepts that solar energy can be generated in Virginia at a cost that is lower than from a gas-fired plant. However, if that solar facility is placed in the utility’s ratebase, as authorized by the VCEA, the cost of that energy to customers is much more expensive.

    Dominion is arguing for profits rather than reliability. For example, they have proposed a new $600 million peaking facility in Chesterfield County. Peakers typically run just 5-10% of the time. The idea is to use these units to cover variations in output from the added renewable capacity.

    Given the 2045 sunset for fossil-fired units in the VCEA, the new unit would have a service life of 22-23 years rather than the normal 40 years. The cost of the facility plus hundreds of millions in added profits would have to be paid off in about half the time, greatly increasing the annual cost to customers.

    Dominion says going without this new unit would require imports from out-of-state (from a mix of nuclear, coal, oil, gas, solar, wind and hydro units), just as it does now. Between now and 2027, there will be a surplus of capacity in PJM of 35% – 60%. Excess energy can be had in exactly the amount we need, when we need it, at the marginal price of generation. At no cost or profit to Dominion and no extra rate adjustments for customers.

    Dominion wants the profit opportunity from a new power plant. That is why they still are asking for more, even though they have the windfall profits from the VCEA.

    Reliability isn’t compromised in Virginia. PJM and NERC are on the job and we currently have an abundance of generating capacity in Virginia and PJM. The GTSA and the VCEA have set us on a path to considerably higher electricity bills in Virginia. At least the VCEA leads us to lower emissions.

    Over 4 million people in the world die prematurely each year from respiratory ailments. (https://www.who.int/gard/publications/The_Global_Impact_of_Respiratory_Disease.pdf)

    You would think in this age of covid-19, we might consider ways of reducing our susceptibility to respiratory disorders.

    The $8 billion for the wind facility is raising Steve’s hackles. I have argued on this blog and elsewhere that it should be built by an independent power producer and the energy sold through a power purchase agreement to keep the price lower. But Dominion owns the lease on the offshore wind zone and they don’t want the profit opportunity to slip by, even though it will cost the rest of us more. Until we give them a better way to make a profit, they will continue to try and build as much as they can.

    The ACP is also expected to cost about $8 billion. It will cost ratepayers about $30 billion over 20 years. Yet, we have heard no equivalent outrage from authors on this blog. It produces no energy. It is unnecessary for us to have the electricity and gas we need. The generating units that were the reason to build it have been reduced by more than half and none of those are certain. While permit after permit was revoked for not meeting legal requirements, existing pipelines in our region expanded in capacity by more than what the ACP would provide. All energy projects deserve careful evaluation, not just those that might be associated with “green” groups.

    • …ugh, death toll of millions due to nat gas power plants like Dominion’s?

    • If you go back to the Minnesota Rate Cases (Simpson v Shepard), 230 U.S. 3522, 454 (1913), the Supreme Court recognized the right of ratepayers not to pay rates more than the service is worth.

      “The property is held in private ownership, and it is that property, and not the original cost of it, of which the owner may not be deprived without due process of law. But still it is property employed in a public calling, subject to governmental regulation, and while, under the guise of such regulation, it may not be confiscated, it is equally true that there is attached to its use the condition that charges to the public shall not be unreasonable.”

      The same case discusses the situation where investment has been reckless or improvident.

      In the semi-famous “A Telephone Rate Case,” by E.D. Smith (1941), he summarized ratepayer rights.

      “This general right of the public has been mentioned or has been said to have application in cases which seem to present particular circumstances for consideration or discussion, such as: where the property may have been bonded in excess of its fair value; its capitalization may have been fictitious; there may have been extravagance and needless expenditure of money, waste in management and enormous salaries, or discrimination resulting in loss; where construction may have been at a time; when materials and labor were at the highest prices, so that actual cost far exceeded present value; where the property was over-built or unwisely built in a locality where there was not enough business to support it; the investment was reckless or improvident; or there was ruinous competition. ” (pp. 105-06)

      Sounds like Virginia energy legislation to me, whether passed when the GA was controlled by Democrats or Republicans.

      • Of course, no one should be surprised at the higher projected costs, they were baked into the cake from the beginning. And almost surely too, actual costs to consumers will grow far, far higher.

        Too Many Taxes raises an excellent point. I believe this battle has only just begun. Green Power as now configured and planned on paper is so fraudulent, inefficient and costly, it will never happen, will instead run out of gas, be defeated, one way or another.

        • It is really hard, indeed it is painful, digging and digging for the truth, but if you at last think you have gotten to the bottom of all the clutter, hate and disinformation, and need to appease others, so you can see clearly and say what you truly believe, then two things happen,

          1. at last you don’t stay up at night worrying so much,

          2. you can endlessly go back to what you have said before, and quote it again and again, and again, and it rings like a bell in clarity.

          3. and the opinion of others, while interesting, never deters.

          Then too its a great pleasure when smart folks like Steve Haner raise hated and rejected but really true documentaries like https://youtu.be/Zk11vI-7czE

          That documentary is great victory for truth, hence it is despised. Being disagreeable to many people is one of the most reliable and rewarding signs to getting closer to the truth. Because the majority view within society and groups making up society typically hate and are afraid of the truth, simply because it greatly unsettles them as it is the truth. So Truth is typically, indeed most always, the hated orphan hidden it closet, and the most valuable thing there is in the world, despite fact it is often very unpleasant and often ugly.

  9. Gotta give Dominion credit – they have got the things they wanted and a bonus that the greens and Dems got blamed !

  10. It’s green, Dominion Green.

  11. “Dominion is arguing for profits rather than reliability” This is the key. They use the idea of reliability to push for that which will give them the best return. Dominion is pushing to do the things that make it the most money with the least risk. Since it is a monopoly, we supposedly count on regulation to replace the restraints of competition. Except, instead Virginia has established a system that lets Dominion call the shots and does not allow the regulator to do its job. At the federal level, FERC bows to Dominion’s demands.

    Allowing Dominion to build wind in a way that boosts costs, allowing Dominion to build generation that will become a stranded asset, supporting the ACP when it isn’t needed. These are all things that are not based on public good but on private gain. We cannot continue to let our system operate based on what makes Dominion the most money. Dominion is not the only player that matters. We’ve broken the risk/reward balance and are allowing Dominion to earn highest rewards without risk. Both federal and state levels have done it. It’s time to rebalance risk/reward and monopoly/regulation. In Virginia, we need to let the regulator do its job and ensure there is effective opposition to make the competing case to Dominion’s. At the federal level we need to turn the regulator into an unbiased entity that adequately includes landowners and communities instead of being a rubber stamp for industry as its workers and industry keep their revolving door spinning.

    • I’m following you until you get to “At the federal level we need to turn the regulator into an unbiased entity that adequately includes landowners and communities instead of being a rubber stamp for industry as its workers and industry keep their revolving door spinning.”

      What are we talking about?

      • Yeah that part needs to be fleshed out a little more but I suspect it means that FERC should not be looking at every pipeline as a pre-determined “public need”.

        An economic market demand is not a public need.

        The ACL was originally claimed to be a “need” to be able to meet
        electricity demand… that claim went out the window pretty quickly.

        So now what is the justification for the use eminent domain? Market demand?

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