Dominion Energy: No More Mister Nice Guy

Dominion Energy executives are furious about the way environmental groups have portrayed State Corporation Commission’s recent rejection of the utility’s Integrated Resource Plan as a blow to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Dominion describes recent comments by spokespersons for the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and the Sierra Club-Virginia Chapter as deliberate “deception” and “lies.”

While they often express frustration with environmentalist foes in off-the-record conversations, Dominion government- and public-relations executives stick to carefully scripted remarks in public statements and steer clear of personal attacks. But after numerous false statements by pipeline foes over the past few weeks, said Thomas Wohlfarth, senior vice president of regulatory affairs, the gloves are off.

“This has been a pattern of behavior we have seen, and it is what I would say is deception,” Wohlfarth told Bacon’s Rebellion. “They are making false statements. They know they are false statements. These are not errors. … To say [the SCC ruling] undermined the ACP is not only factually incorrect, but a misrepresentation. I would go so far as to say a lie — a deliberate deception.”

Frustration has been building at Dominion as lawsuits, demonstrations, negative press coverage, and tighter environmental controls have delayed implementation of the 600-mile natural gas pipeline and escalated the cost of the project from $5.5 billion to about $6.5 billion. Earlier this week environmentalist attorneys racked up a legal victory, ensuring more delays, when a federal appeals court invalidated a federal permit for the pipeline to cross 21 miles of national forest, including a section of the Appalachian Trail.

Dominion foes also scored a P.R. coup last week when the SCC rejected Dominion’s 2018 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) on the grounds that the utility had over-estimated electricity load growth over the next 15 years and ordered the company to submit a revised plan. Environmental groups, which had criticized the IRP on the grounds that inflated growth estimates underpinned future construction of more gas-fired generating facilities, felt vindicated.

The problem with the SELC and Sierra Club statements, said Wohlfarth is that Dominion does not justify the need for the ACP on projections of future natural gas demand — it justifies the project on the basis of current need to diversify fuel sources.

What environmentalists said. In prepared statements and quotes to the media, environmental groups spun the SCC decision on the IRP as a blow to the pipeline. A December 7 SELC press release stated:

“Since at least 2015, Dominion has told federal regulators that the pipeline is needed because the demand for power is growing. But now we know that the company has been getting its predictions wrong for years,” said SELC attorney Will Cleveland. “If Virginia doesn’t need new gas-fired power plants, we also don’t need the ACP to run them.”

The SCC decision also puts a fine point on the risk that the ACP poses for utility customers. Dominion plans to charge its customers for the cost of the pipeline—including the 15% profit that goes to the company’s shareholders—on their power bills.

“It’s time that decision makers recognize the ACP for what it is: an abuse of Dominion’s monopoly power that will hurt the people and environment of Virginia,” said SELC senior attorney Greg Buppert.

Similarly, Kate Addleson with the Sierra Club-Virginia Chapter said in a statement:

By acknowledging Dominion’s refusal to accurately forecast Virginia’s electricity needs, the State Corporation Commission has taken an important step in protecting ratepayers from rampant cost overruns associated with the high quantity of unneeded fracked-gas pipelines and plants that Dominion said it needed to meet its inflated load forecasts.

The environmentalists’ charges made it into media reports. For example, writing in The Virginia Mercury, Robert Zullo wrote:

“In rejecting the company’s inflated forecast of electricity demand, in particular, the order reaffirms what SELC has argued for years about Dominion’s flawed planning process and calls into question the need for proposed projects like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” Cleveland said.

Why Dominion says the environmentalists are lying.

 Dominion is only one of four partners in the ACP, and it has reserved about 20% of the pipeline’s capacity. It needs that capacity now, not in the future, Wohlfarth said.

Every year or two Virginia experiences a deep freeze that spikes demand for natural gas and shoots up the price from $3 to $5 per mcf (thousand cubic feet) to well over $100, he said. Just one of those events can cost Virginia rate payers between $100 million and $150 million. The ACP’s added capacity makes it possible not just to supply more gas but to bring in gas from different gas-producing regions than the current sources of supply. “It’s all about the need for supply capacity in Virginia,” he said. “We see the constraints every time we have cold conditions.”

To back up Wohlfarth’s assertion, Dominion Energy cited a July 2, 2018, letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from David Craymer, vice president-systems operations with Dominion’s Power Generations Group:

 Virginia Power Services Energy Corp. … has subscribed to 300,000 dekatherms per day of firm transportation service [from the ACP]. The natural gas that VPSE will deliver through the ACP is an important pillar of the Dominion Energy diversified energy portfolio; VPSE is depending upon the timely in-service of ACP to ensure the reliable, affordable, safe and clean energy for it customers. In particular, ACP and the access to competitive natural gas supplies that ACP makes possible is urgently needed, as Dominion Energy reduces its dependency on coal and biomass resources.

I asked Wohlfarth how much savings rate payers could expect from the ACP during cold-weather events and how that would compare to the cost of incorporating pipeline costs into the rate base for Virginia electric customers. He did not know if have that information was available, he said. The larger point, he added, is that the pipeline project is about “portfolio diversification and risk mitigation.”

“Look where our gas consumption has gone in the last seven years,” he said. “It wasn’t an issue back then. We weren’t using that much gas. Our fuel diversity came in the form of different coal contracts, nuclear fuel supply contracts. We didn’t do that much long-term [gas] supply hedging. Now, as coal and nuclear plants are at risk, you have seen the need to mitigate the risk of disruption and price spikes through supplier diversity.”

I did not ask Wohlfarth to explain what he meant by coal and nuclear plants being “at risk,” but SELC, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups have argued that Virginia should phase out coal and nuclear generating facilities in favor of more solar and wind energy. The licenses for Dominion’s nuclear units at North Anna and Surry will expire eventually, and although the company has indicated that it wants to extend the life of all four units by another 20 years, there is no guarantee that it will receive regulatory approval.

And by the way… In side comments not related to his charge that Cleveland was misrepresenting the justification for the ACP, Wohlfarth disputed the SELC’s and Sierra Club’s analysis of what the SCC ruling meant for the pipeline.

The Dominion IRP’s forecast for annual electric load growth was 1.4% annually. The SCC argued that the IRP should adopt a 0.8% forecast by PJM Interconnection, the multi-state Regional Transmission Organization that maintains wholesale electricity markets of which Virginia is a part. The lower PJM forecast still indicates that Virginia will experience growth in its electric load, said Wohlfarth. That electricity has to come from somewhere.

But think about what else the SCC said in its ruling, said Wohlfarth. State regulators want Dominion Energy in its revised IRP to run a scenario that shows no off-shore wind. It wants Dominion to show solar farms generating power 23% of the time, not 26% of the time. While Dominion had taken out a base-load combined-cycle natural gas facility that it had projected needing in previous IRPs, the SCC wanted the utility to put the combined-cycle unit back in.

“That’s setting up an IRP that will have less solar and more gas as the least-cost option,” Wohlfarth said. Adopting the SCC’s assumptions likely would strengthen the case for the pipeline, not undermine it, he said.

What Cleveland said. I emailed Cleveland, noting that Dominion had disputed the conclusions he had drawn about the implications of the SCC ruling for the pipeline, and asked him to get back to me. He contacted me by email and we engaged in an exchange in which he answered my questions with questions of his own. I did not get a chance to ask him to respond to Dominion’s charge that he had deliberately misrepresented the facts before he broke off the correspondence.

In the exchange Cleveland cited Dominion’s application to FERC (p. 5-6):

In recent years, a combination of population growth and displacement of coal-fired electric power generation has significantly increased the demand for natural gas in Virginia and North Carolina. Overall natural gas use grew by 31 and 78 percent, respectively, in Virginia and North Carolina between 2009 and 2013. Demand for gas fired electric power generation grew by 67 percent in Virginia and by 417 percent in North Carolina from 2009 to 2014.

To help meet this demand, Atlantic is applying for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to construct, install, own, operate and maintain the ACP to provide firm natural gas transportation service of 1.5 MMDt/day through a new interstate pipeline system in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. The ACP is a proposed interstate natural gas transmission system that will serve the growing energy needs of multiple public utilities and local distribution companies in Virginia and North Carolina. Based on current customer commitments, Atlantic estimates that approximately 79.2 percent of the natural gas transported by the ACP will be used as a fuel to generate electricity for industrial, commercial, and residential uses.

“Is that consistent with what Tom said to you?” he asked.

“I’d say so,” I responded. “He says natural gas demand could increase in the future if Dom phases out coal and/or nuclear, regardless of what happens to electricity demand.”

“Have they said publicly that the need for the ACP is tied to the possibility they may phase out nuclear units?” Cleveland emailed back.

“No. Wohlfarth said, ‘coal and nuclear plants are at risk.’”

“So how are they saying ACP helps in that scenario? Fueling new gas plants built to replace retiring coal/nukes?”

“I didn’t ask that question, and I don’t know what Tom would say.”

I sent the last email around 5:30 in the evening, and Cleveland did not respond further.

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52 responses to “Dominion Energy: No More Mister Nice Guy”

  1. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    “Dominion foes also scored a P.R. coup last week when the SCC rejected Dominion’s 2018 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) on the grounds that the utility had over-estimated electricity load growth…”

    The complaint that the utility’s forecasts are inflated is universal and long-standing, so the rejection was far more than a “PR coup.” If it reflects anything, it reflects an SCC that has taken all the abuse it is going to take off these people. Under the new law, the IRP takes on far greater importance so the SCC was perfectly reasonable in kicking it back for more data.

    What, no beefs with the coverage on this issue I’ve provided? Damn, I need to double down…but I don’t share the total hostility to the pipelines or the use of natural gas which has become the defining issue for the Left. That whining out of D HQ is more about the pipeline than the IRP, and Cleveland has been on a roll in the federal courts. I didn’t really know him a year ago, and he’s good at what he does.

    Here is a point some miss. If the forecasts are wrong, if Dominion needs little or no new generation, if the new demand management programs actually work and…manage demand, then the power plants that do NOT get built will be the green power plants the environmentalists want. I’m stunned they are not right in there with the utility insisting on a major massive building program!

    1. vaconsumeradvocate Avatar

      Steve while I agree with you about the inaccuracy of the projections and I firmly believe that Dominion has been playing both ends against the middle, and finally got caught where what it’s told FERC and what is true for Virginia are in conflict, your pipeline analysis bothers me.

      I think folks make a mistake if they declare pipelines only a Leftist and/or Democratic issue. The root problem for many of us is property rights. We believe that they are critical and foundational to our democracy and that they are being trampled in the pipeline process. Core constitutional issues like this have historically been fodder for conservatives. Since this process began in Virginia, I have been stunned that conservatives, especially in the agricultural community, have not seemed willing to understand what is happening to us – and that it could happen to them next.

      At this point, I do not believe anyone has any reason to work for / build anything. You can put everything you have into it but if some big company decides it has better use for your land than you do, they can take it – with extreme ease. Nothing in our system makes them consider you or your use of your property in any way. They have refused to work with us at all and even refused to move the path of the line within our property, affecting no one else. We asked for that so the pipeline would not be in the middle of the land we use the most for our 116 year old business, so we’d always know exactly where it was, and so we could gain a bit of safety by getting our buildings (including our 1804 farmhouse) to the edge of the incineration zone rather than in the middle of it. If anything goes wrong, we stand to lose everything including our lives. We continue to provide jobs in our community. They claim a lot of jobs but I have yet to meet anyone in Virginia who has gotten a good, long term job because of either pipeline. Instead of getting the projected jobs from the pipeline, Virginia may instead lose long term jobs when businesses like ours are forced to close because of the pipeline forced on us without consideration.

      I believe that we have a huge disconnect with our current laws. I don’t think the problem is political, at least not one party of the other. The problem is that big business has gotten too much power and has too much control over everything.

      I’m glad the SCC is finally showing some teeth. It’s long overdue. The changes in our electric legislation went WAY too far last winter. Citizens and our economy are in for a lot of hurt and our only hope is that the SCC is back to doing its job.

      I have been frustrated for years that Virginia has not embraced demand side actions like efficiency and conservation and that we have not allowed renewables the opportunity to succeed. We should be doing more with real distributed generation – instead of creating new terrorist targets like the Union Hill Compressor Station – and experimenting with storage. The utility business model is evolving but Dominion seeks to stay in the last century where the utility controlled everything. That’s not where we’re going as a broader society, but Dominion is able, so far, to hold Virginia back.

      Industry seeks to belittle and discredit any who view things differently from it. The current means of doing so in such harsh, uncivilized, public and extreme ways is totally wrong. I hope people are starting to realize that they cannot just let Dominion do what it wants and that the louder and meaner they get, the more they are hiding truth themselves as they call out others. We can’t trust that company at all, as my experiences as a landowner whose property they are taking have proven. Their big ads claim they respect and work with landowners but the truth is that they do not and our current laws allows them to bully us and take our heritage.

      Please, don’t fall for the trap of calling the pipelines just an environmental issue. They are also and maybe most importantly, a property rights issue that is central to our democracy. Many in the pipeline battles are not primarily environmentalists. Many have been drawn in because of the extreme injustices the pipelines bring. Everyone ought to be paying attention. If they aren’t trying to take your property this time, and they get by taking ours, your property may be next. Dominion can claim its opponents are lying all it wants, but its spin and exaggeration is epic.

      I pray that the tide is turning for our democracy and our environment but I fear not enough will occur in my lifetime to restore the fairness and justice this country was founded upon. People have got to be able to count on some basic property rights and have to be motivated to work hard and build things or our society and economy will not work. Currently, there is no reason for anyone to work hard. A big company can come along and take or damage it with no consideration of you and you, the landowner, are helpless. That is plain wrong. We must change laws.

      1. djrippert Avatar

        “The root problem for many of us is property rights.”

        True. Dominion, over the years, has purchased the Virginia General Assembly. The GA is Dominion’s property.

        Until Dominion is banned from making unlimited political contributions the ratepayers will not be adequately represented.

      2. LandLover Avatar

        Mr. Bacon is an extremely intelligent man which leads me to wonder why he thinks Dominion is so careful not to “slap” the scores upon scores of private property owners who oppose this project. I believe Mr. Bacon knows that slapping environmental groups that also oppose the project is politically acceptable, and hence okay in his book. It assuages guilt for the thousands of conservatives who support this project in spite of the fact that it tramples all over constitutional rights to private property. If Dominion wanted guns, the outcry would be deafening, but “greening” up this issue makes it okay? Makes me physically sick and loathe to support any conservative who supports the ACP, but claims to care about Constitutional rights. Blame the “greens” if you will, but good luck sleeping on it.

        1. The alliance between environmentalists and landowners in the ACP case is purely tactical. Environmentalists have never hesitated to sacrifice landowner rights in other contexts.

          Also landowners tend to be powerless. You don’t hear me inveighing against dark money and the powerful landowner lobby.

        2. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
          Reed Fawell 3rd

          Good point, Jim. As far as Environmentalists are concerned, landowners are toast. A relic of the privileged class from the past, to be tossed onto the trash heap of history.

          Funny, how the world works, the shifting alliances, all based on money, who has it, and who wants to keep it.

          “Early Evolution of Eminent Domain Cases

          The federal government’s power of eminent domain has long been used in the United States to acquire property for public use. Eminent domain ”appertains to every independent government. It requires no constitutional recognition; it is an attribute of sovereignty.” Boom Co. v. Patterson, 98 U.S. 403, 406 (1879). However, the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution stipulates: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Thus, whenever the United States acquires a property through eminent domain, it has a constitutional responsibility to justly compensate the property owner for the fair market value of the property. See Bauman v. Ross, 167 U.S. 548 (1897); Kirby Forest Industries, Inc. v. United States, 467 U.S. 1, 9-10 (1984).

          The U.S. Supreme Court first examined federal eminent domain power in 1876 in Kohl v. United States. This case presented a landowner’s challenge to the power of the United States to condemn land in Cincinnati, Ohio for use as a custom house and post office building. Justice William Strong called the authority of the federal government to appropriate property for public uses “essential to its independent existence and perpetuity.” Kohl v. United States, 91 U.S. 367, 371 (1875).

          The Supreme Court again acknowledged the existence of condemnation authority twenty years later in United States v. Gettysburg Electric Railroad Company. Congress wanted to acquire land to preserve the site of the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania. The railroad company that owned some of the property in question contested this action. Ultimately, the Court opined that the federal government has the power to condemn property “whenever it is necessary or appropriate to use the land in the execution of any of the powers granted to it by the constitution.” United States v. Gettysburg Electric Ry., 160 U.S. 668, 679 (1896).

          The U.S. Supreme Court first examined federal eminent domain power in 1876 in Kohl v. United States. This case presented a landowner’s challenge to the power of the United States to condemn land in Cincinnati, Ohio for use as a custom house and post office building. Justice William Strong called the authority of the federal government to appropriate property for public uses “essential to its independent existence and perpetuity.” Kohl v. United States, 91 U.S. 367, 371 (1875).

          The Supreme Court again acknowledged the existence of condemnation authority twenty years later in United States v. Gettysburg Electric Railroad Company. Congress wanted to acquire land to preserve the site of the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania. The railroad company that owned some of the property in question contested this action. Ultimately, the Court opined that the federal government has the power to condemn property “whenever it is necessary or appropriate to use the land in the execution of any of the powers granted to it by the constitution.” United States v. Gettysburg Electric Ry., 160 U.S. 668, 679 (1896).

          Condemnation cases like that against the Gettysburg Railroad Company exemplify another use for eminent domain: establishing parks and setting aside open space for future generations, preserving places of historic interest and remarkable natural beauty, and protecting environmentally sensitive areas. Some of the earliest federal government acquisitions for parkland were made at the end of the nineteenth century and remain among the most beloved and well-used of American parks. In Washington, D.C., Congress authorized the creation of a park along Rock Creek in 1890 for the enjoyment of the capitol city’s residents and visitors. The Department of Justice became involved when a number of landowners from whom property was to be acquired disputed the constitutionality of the condemnation. In Shoemaker v. United States, 147 U.S. 282 (1893), the Supreme Court affirmed the actions of Congress.

          Today, Rock Creek National Park, over a century old and more than twice the size of New York City’s Central Park, remains a unique wilderness in the midst of an urban environment. This is merely one small example of the many federal parks, preserves, historic sites, and monuments to which the work of the Land Acquisition Section has contributed.”

          History of Eminent Domain, US Dept. of Justice.

          Horror of horrors? We are burning democracy down? Or are we spoiled children, unable to act like mature adults? And are we little welping sissies, instead.

  2. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    “Dominion Energy: No More Mister Nice Guy”

    This is long past due. The Environmental lobby has been grossly misrepresenting the facts and truth about our critical need for more natural gas, for many years now. This pipeline is critically needed for Virginia’s energy security, in no small part by reason of the growing threat of our over-reliance on unreliable renewable power, that will threaten that security, if its construction be overdone, like happened recently in Germany for example. As for truth telling – the record of strident environmental organizations is a sorry one indeed, one growing more tattered by the day, as Germany learned recently to its great harm and lasting regret.

  3. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Wait a minute. The light bulb just went off (LED). They are going back to the GA on this, just watch. So nice to have you back in your Dominion Pravda role, Jim, they use you to telegraph their next moves….

    1. Dominion Pravda role?

      Just trying to provide a little balance to your posts, Steve.

      1. Steve Haner Avatar
        Steve Haner

        Well, it is Russian for truth, right?

      2. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
        Reed Fawell 3rd

        “Just trying to provide a little balance to your posts, Steve.”

        There is a word for this, indeed two words: FREE SPEECH.

        It’s been going on since Adams, and Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison, despite Jefferson’s sly behind the scenes under-handed efforts to throttle it. We must be ever vigilant, on the look out for, the Jeffersons among us, countering them.

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    It takes mucho Chutzpah for Doms own PR machine to accuse others of misrepresentations and lies… Good LORD!

    and yes… I think Steve is dead on…

    I’m surprised they did not accuse PJM of misrepresenting the demand forecast!

    If they need the gas – right now – then they need to show it – now and in an explicit way not by vague inferences.

    To this point – everything I have heard about the ACP is that they need to gas for future electrical demand. This is the first I’ve heard that they need it to replace coal and nukes… Where are their numbers in the IRP to show this?

    I don’t think Dom can have it both ways. To this point – they have made claims about future forecasts and need that neither PJM nor the enviros agreed with. If you’re gonna call the enviros “liars”, then why not PJM also?

  5. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    As much as I don’t like Dominion’s actions, there is nothing wrong with the Company attacking environmental groups. Despite efforts by the left, including much of academia and Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu (I’d like the censor speech but the 1st Amendment gets in the way), we still have free speech in the United States. And no one anointed environmental groups as holders of the absolute truth.

    And it’s just fine for the environmental groups to fire back. Dominion is not entitled to a free ride.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      So, I’d ask. In Virginia who speaks for consumers/ratepayers besides the enviros?

  6. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    The consumer counsel division within the Attorney General’s Office is charged with speaking for consumers. The SCC staff takes on that task, and is certainly charged with determining the cost to consumers and reporting it. Large industrial customers have advocates before the commission, but their interests do not totally align with residential ratepayers. Environmentalist goals do not always align and sometimes are contrary to consumers – their proposals are not always the lowest cost. The SCC has plenty to sort out, but when the process works the various interests are represented.

    The comments from Cleveland and others have touched a raw nerve, clearly. And the FERC certificate of need for the pipeline, which grants that vital power of eminent domain, is the linchpin. Maybe this pipeline really is in trouble.

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      “Environmentalist goals do not always align and sometimes are contrary to consumers – their proposals are not always the lowest cost.”

      Well stated, Steve. I’m looking for reliable electricity at the lowest reasonable price.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Let me rephrase – what other NON-govt groups speak for consumers of electricity?

        What the enviros HAVE advocated for is 3rd party wind/solar which would provide lower cost electricity. They seem to be the ONLY ones that question the exaggerated forecasts, not giving the rate freeze money back, and the bogus Grid Transformation act that basically gives Dominion carte-blanche to spend without regard to whether it’s cost effective or not.

        no others – not commercial nor business nor actual consumer groups has advocated for consumers.

        1. Steve Haner Avatar
          Steve Haner

          Me. As long as the spirit continues to move me, I will write about this from the regular consumers point of view.

          1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
            Reed Fawell 3rd

            And you’re an effective advocate indeed!

  7. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
    Jane Twitmyer

    WOW! ““portfolio diversification and risk mitigation.”

    Here we go again! Could Dominion be more general and less specific? Where are his numbers? What about those 20 year contracts with the Transco pipeline for our 2 newly built and contracted gas fired plants? What about the cancellation of those 2 additional gas plant that were to be built in the 20’s? What about the IRP’s projected shift to gas ‘peakers’, a shift that has been identified as just plain silly by regulators out west? Silly because the price of storage is on a dramatic decline and will take the place of those ‘peakers’ in less than 5 years? Storage will be cheaper too … according to energy those regulators in other jurisdictions.

    Several years ago Dominion’s growth numbers were based on population and GDP growth. Then when that correlation proved to be old school, Dominion claimed IT industry development was the electricity driver. True, but Dominion must have known, as I did, that IT corporations were leading the way to renewable energy. They do know that now after having to promise Amazon eventual access to 100% renewable electricity for their move to Crystal City.

    Then there is the analysis by Tom that efficient buildings could, over time, replace the need for all our current nuclear generation. Trouble is, a push for customers to incorporate efficiency into their buildings is not something Dominion wants to do. The electricity saved doesn’t have to be replaced. Less demand means less profit under our current monopoly regs.

    Finally, there is onsite solar soon to be paired with storage. The NREL analysis done with GIF says Virginia can provide 25% of her total electricity needs through rooftop solar. That solution has the same problem that efficient buildings has … less central generation means less Dominion profits. Again … Green as I am, analysis by CitiGroup a few years back predicted the total reduction in central generation needed could go as low as 50%. See their Energy Darwinism papers. Evidently noone believes that because even PJM now has excess capacity.

    I just don’t understand why this is a political name-calling/wrestling match. The changes required are only bad for the ‘old’ corporations if they choose not to adapt to the new realities that clean energy will provide … cheaper, healthier electricity generation.

    This is not really about policy on the right or left. It is about corporate power and unfettered capitalism that serves only itself.

  8. LarrytheG Avatar

    Although I have some qualms about storage in terms of ready for prime time – all the rest of what she says, demonstrates clearly that Dominion is working to enrich Dominion at the expense of consumers and structuring its proposals to undermine and damage the real potential of wind, solar and demand-side energy conservation.

    The fact that Dominion is not “aligned” with PJM in terms of forecasts nor as well as in terms of it as a much more cost-effective source of peak demand electricity rather than in-house gas while the enviros align with PJM speaks reams.

    The GA as well as corporate and business groups support Dominion and failure of de-coupling, the failure to return excess profits and taxes and cooking up Dominion-enriching schemes to actually increase the cost of solar and wind …by keeping it out of the hands of 3rd party competitors – all of that is NOT in the interests of consumers… and the only non-govt voice for consumers at this point is the enviros.

    that’s just the reality. I’d love to see a non-enviro consumer group but apparently, such a group either does not exist or has such a low profile that their impact to the process is almost invisible.

    1. vaconsumeradvocate Avatar

      Larry, folks don’t widely support the consumer perspective. The Virginia Citizens Consumer Council is a volunteer organization. It’s been around for about 50 years but right now it’s not very active. We need people who care and will give the time to work on these things.

      Since I have been personally attacked by pipelines, I’ve put the energy that used to go into VCCC fighting for my heritage, my safety, and my net worth. I didn’t think it was fair to drag VCCC into every turn of my personal battle. That battle has consumed every minute I’ve had and tens of thousands of dollars, but I’m still losing everything.

      I hope that this will end and others will realize how important it is to have an active consumer voice and that VCCC will be re-energized. Both my research as an academic and my service work have focused on consumer pocketbook issues, especially energy. I’m already networking nationally with others who care about property rights and who believe that change is needed. I’ve been trying to keep it alive but I can’t do it all alone and my efforts for the broader consumer fight have been hijacked by the ACP and MVP, both of which affect me personally. Irene

  9. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    “The changes required are only bad for the ‘old’ corporations if they choose not to adapt to the new realities that clean energy will provide … cheaper, healthier electricity generation.”

    I am troubled by wagging the “cheaper” bone in front of us dogs. I just paid my last Dominion bill. The combined price for generation and fuel was $0.0745 per kWh. Presumably those charges would go away with a renewable energy generator and be replaced by its charges. So where is the “:green” competitor sending me literature that offers a kWh price less than $0.0745? Maybe it requires a two-year commitment but if renewable energy is truly cheaper, consumers would be being marketed. There is no marketing of lower rates. Hence, the only conclusion that can be drawn is the price of green energy is higher. Environmentalists are as crooked in their advocacy as the robocallers promising credit card debt relief.

    “and the only non-govt voice for consumers at this point is the enviros.” Absolutely not. Residential and small business prices want cheaper and reliable power. Enviros want non-fossil fuel power irrespective of cost. They want homeowners to essentially rebuild their homes at a cost of what – $50k – $100K or more.

    I’m all for challenging Dominion and championing consumer interests but the enviros don’t speak for me.

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      TMT is right on target as is typically the case. One really does have to laugh out loud at the Enviro’s claim that they are going all out to save us consumers money when they have spent the past 40 years trying to shut down our economy with regulations, and have worked so hard to drive our energy prices sky high, while at the same time they lecture all about what we can do and what we cannot do. Meanwhile, hypocrites like Al Gore tell us to hang our wash out in our back yard on a line, while he jets around the world between his 10,000 sq ft homes lit by enough electric power to fuel a Super Bowl coliseum for a night game in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

      We’ve all “BEEN THERE DONE THAT” listening to these people.

    2. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
      Jane Twitmyer

      OK, exactly who wants you to rebuild your house for $50-100K? I submit that is not true and that you are actually pointing out the issue with making buildings energy efficient. It is not the cost of efficiency improvements that is the problem. It is fact that the cost is an upfront cost as is the purchase of on-site energy? Where will the money come from and at what cost?

      Property Assessed Clean Energy loans (PACE) is one way to get the funds. But no matter how you look at it using less is cheaper over time. One example … A $200,000 energy efficiency retrofit… Annual forecast energy and operational savings are $33,000, a 6.1 years simple payback. The savings cover the loan because PACE funding is available for 100% of the project cost for 20 years at 6% interest rate.

      I am old enough to remember when the environment wasn’t an ideological thing, just something we all got together to fix the degradation we saw around us. The public had been horrified watching and learning what we were doing to our environment. Rachel Carson published Silent Spring. We watched the spectacle of a river burning in Cleveland, and a huge oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast.

      Senator Nelson’s Earth Day galvanized everyone. Response from the grass roots was so remarkable Congress recessed to join the celebration. Rallies were held in Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and most other American cities. In New York City, Mayor John Lindsay closed off a portion of Fifth Avenue and In Washington, D.C., thousands of people listened to speeches and performances that included singer Pete Seeger and others. Twenty years later the celebration went global.

      Finally, a Republican President passed the first environmental legislation. The Environmental Protection Agency was established that December, followed by: the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.

      I submit that your automatic, and nasty, response amounts to a missed opportunity to participate in solutions that are necessary for all our health and safety.

      1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
        Reed Fawell 3rd

        Yes, Jane, I am well aware of that environmental activism starting in the 1960s since I was right in middle of it. A environmentalist all my life, I grew living in and reading about the outdoors, voraciously reading John Muir, Henry Beston, Rachel Carson, and David Brower’s Sierra Club book, and all the rest of that ilk, and spent decades climbing mountains around with world, did some 30 public lectures on those adventures, and lived for years next to the C&O Canal, did a long study for the park service on its restoration after the super storm Agnes nearly destroyed the canal in mid June, 1972, worked with many others to save Assateague Island from the highway and development planned down islands length in late 1960′ and early 1970’s, did these projects among others. I am a environmentalist still, living on a river and bay, going out on it most every day weather permitting between March and mid December..

        The problem is, Jane, the environment movement became a big business after Three Mile Island, and the Love Canal hoax, and now there are many powerful elements of the movement who have hijacked it, and now far too often do more harm than good. That’s my opinion, one shared by many others who work and play outside, and who love the land and water, and are serious environmentalists too, along with me. You aren’t the only game in town, Jane.

        1. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
          Jane Twitmyer

          Well Reed, the outdoors and saving open lands is only one part the environmental movement. The town I lived in in CT was sn early proponent of open space and one of the first government entities to do a Land Trust and land set asides from development properties, which i worked for. There is the piece of environmentalism that protect air and water from destruction. That takes regulation and real oversight. In my CT town that meant regulations to protect wells as well as the rivers and aquifers. Evidently you think corporations will not destroy the environment because it is cheaper for them.

          The health and environmental problems with burning coal got worse and worse as we required more and more electricity. The environmental movement became about toxic damage when the accumulated damage gave us things like the burning rivers which you claim a hoax without explanation or proof.

          I don’t agree with everyone in the ‘movement’ but to declare regulation wrong and the movement ‘highjacked’ without facts i just plain wrong. Support for the environment is not just about a walk in the woods.

      2. TooManyTaxes Avatar

        Jane – MWCOG looked at was to reduce carbon emissions substantially and got stuck with the issue of retrofitting houses and smaller commercial buildings. While I don’t remember the exact figure, the costs were unaffordable. Given the costs of repair and upgrades my household has undertaken, a cost of $50 – 100 K for new windows, doors, roof, insulation, furnace, hot water heaters, appliances, etc. doesn’t seem outrageous to me. I’d hazard to say my estimate is conservative. Do you have better figures?

        Where is this money going to come from? How are individuals and small businesses going to afford repayment? MWCOG staff and the board, dominated by Democrats in the Metro D.C. area simply dropped the issue as unaffordable. Why? Because they looked at the numbers and the numbers showed retrofitting older homes and commercial buildings was unaffordable.

        You may call it automatic and nasty but my statement about no green energy company is offering to beat Dominion’s price is unrefuted. Environmentalists talk cheaper but never demonstrate how with numbers. In my book, that’s fraud and misrepresentation.

        1. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
          Jane Twitmyer

          You say ..” Because they looked at the numbers and the numbers showed retrofitting older homes and commercial buildings was unaffordable.”
          They were wrong. Here is the PACE in DC way for commercial retrofits

          Cut costs, save energy and improve your property with DC PACE.
          Reduce utility bills and hedge against rising prices
          Make upgrades that are cash flow positive in year one
          Improve your building and boost property value with no money out-of-
          Extend capital budgets and preserve replacement reserves
          Go green, earn LEED points, and reduce your carbon footprint

          Housing cozts – building net-zero energy houses — or homes with no monthly electricity bill — didn’t cost much more than building an ordinary house. Estimates were 1 to 8 percent higher according to an RM
          I study. A couple of builders have taken up the challenge.

          About besting Dominion … Tom has shown how 3rd party ownership is cheaper than Dominion rates plus distribution costs, but for the most part our regs don’t allow it.

    3. vaconsumeradvocate Avatar

      I believe that we don’t get more solar offers because so many obstacles have been placed for individual consumers. Other states are more friendly. Yet, our utilities have done a super job of protecting their market and making it so that people cannot afford to risk having to pay for a solar system along with full cost of the back up of traditional service. Rules need to change to entice consumers to try new things.

      Ironically, I regularly get contact from folks wanting to know if I want to lease my land for solar for decent regular money. But my land is being taken for a pipeline that won’t help the public and that doesn’t give me regular income. Our model is broken.

  10. I would rather avoid the name calling and present the facts that are on the record.
    1. Mr. Wohlfarth says “Dominion does not justify the need for the ACP on projections of future natural gas demand — it justifies the project on the basis of current need to diversify fuel sources.”

    Mr. Cleveland was correct when he referred to the statement from Dominion’s application to FERC for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline which stated that the purpose of the new pipeline was to “serve the growing energy needs” of the utilities owned by the utility holding-company developers of the pipeline. The ACP application says that “Atlantic estimates that approximately 79.2 percent of the natural gas transported by the ACP will be used as a fuel to generate electricity.”

    Mr. Wohlfarth is contradicting his company’s primary rationale that FERC used to approve the project. We do not know for certain why Dominion is employing this revisionist history. It is possible that the new reasoning is to disguise the fact that most of the new power plants that were used to justify the need for more gas supply to the region have been cancelled. Dominion has admitted that it has no plans to build more.

    Mr. Wolhlfarth emphasizes that Dominion “needs this capacity now, not in the future” apparently because of the need to diversify fuel sources. But Dominion has just completed a monumental shift in the makeup of its generating fleet. Gas-fired generation now comprises the largest share of any type of generation operated by Dominion. This shift has been mostly accomplished by the addition of three new gas-fired combined cycle units, totaling nearly 4,400 MW, that have gone into service in the past four years.

    All of these units plus the Bear Garden plant (recently converted to gas) have reliable and affordable long-term agreements for pipeline capacity using existing pipelines. The State Corporation Commission would not have approved their construction if that had not been the case.

    The two newest units, Brunswick and Greensville, are supplied by a connection to the Transco system built in 2015. This pipeline provides access to the supply zone intended to be used by the ACP. Its primary source of supply is the supply zone in northeastern Pennsylvania. This area has been the most productive shale gas zone in the United States and is used by Dominion to supply its Cove Point LNG plant. Transco also provides access to the Gulf Coast production zone which has recently produced a significant amount of low-cost gas resulting from oil exploration.

    The ACP has access to only one source of supply, in West Virginia, although because of its intended connection to Transco it will also have access to the other zones as well. The ACP will not provide any new flexibility or diversification; it will only take advantage of what already exists.

    Dominion’s application to FERC claimed that the ACP was necessary to serve the Brunswick and Greensville plants. However, the capacity Dominion reserved on the ACP, 300,000 Dekatherms per day (Dth/d), is not enough to meet the total daily requirements of both plants (500,000 Dth/d) let alone provide for the two new plants that were on the drawing boards that were said to require the ACP. Dominion testified in last year’s IRP hearing that it never studied the need for a new pipeline in Virginia, as part of its long-term planning for electrical generation.

    Dominion’s FERC application identifies an agreement between the ACP and Columbia Gas to deliver Dominion’s 300,000 Dth/d allotment to Virginia via a connection between the ACP and Columbia’s WB pipeline in West Virginia. This pipeline has recently expanded its capacity by 1,300,000 Dth/d (nearly the amount provided by the ACP). It currently transports the gas supply used by the Warren plant, the first of big new gas-fired plants that went into service in 2014.

    Columbia Gas takes its supply from the same zone intended to be used by the ACP. The price of gas at the Columbia Hub is about the same as the current gas price at Dominion South Hub. However, based on information filed with the SCC, the cost of transporting gas using the Columbia Gas pipeline is many times cheaper than using the ACP. The current published rates for the ACP fail to take into account the latest 40% price increase for the Atlantic pipeline.

    The Columbia Gas pipeline has proved its reliability and low cost. It connects to the Transco corridor that traverses Virginia from north to south. Together, these two pipelines are currently the major source of gas supply to most of the homes and businesses in Virginia and have been for decades. The Transco pipeline is also expanding in capacity in an amount greater than what will be provided by the ACP. The subscribers of this new capacity are gas producers and marketing companies looking for new customers.

    Using existing pipelines is much cheaper than using new pipelines because they have been mostly paid for by previous customers. Certainly, this existing infrastructure is a more cost-effective choice to become the “pillar of Dominion’s diversified energy portfolio.”

  11. 2. Mr. Wohlfarth notes that the Polar Vortex and last January’s cold snap caused an increase in gas prices. PJM and others examined the situation and discovered that many of the difficulties were due to inefficiencies in the human systems rather than a lack of sufficient pipeline capacity. The policies that created the difficulties experienced between the process for gas dispatch and electricity dispatch have been significantly improved.

    Mr. Wohlfarth continues Dominion’s unwillingness to recognize that in 2018 existing pipelines serving Virginia have increased in capacity in an amount that totals more than twice the capacity that the ACP might provide more than two years from now.

    The “constraints” he refers to have been experienced on occasion in southeast Virginia. A number of Virginia Natural Gas customers have elected to be “interruptible” customers in order to qualify for a lower year-round rate for gas. In times of high demand, service to this class of customer is curtailed so that more gas is available to provide to higher priority customers who are willing to pay more for gas.

    We certainly want all regions of our state to have access to the energy they need. There are several ways to deal with this issue, but developing a new pipeline whose cost to transport gas is so high that it adds at least a 60% premium to the current price of gas is not the way to create new jobs or attract more industry.

  12. 3. Mr. Wohlfarth argues that demand for electricity in Dominion’s service territory is still growing at a significant rate. Data provided by Dominion for the past 10 years to the SCC reveals a different trend. The growth forecast by Dominion in previous Integrated Resource Plans (planning documents for a future 15-year period) shows that Dominion’s forecasts are consistently overstated, as shown in the graph below.

    Dominion’s forecasts use 30 years of data where the earlier years of experience outweigh the recent changes in energy use and efficiency that we are currently experiencing. This results in a significant over-estimate of future energy use.

    Major corporations are implementing efficiency programs and customer-sited solar facilities. Both will reduce the need for electricity from Dominion. The multi-billion dollar program to improve energy efficiency that the GA has encouraged Dominion to undertake is ignored in the forecast, as if billions spent by Dominion and added to its ratebase will have no effect on future energy use in the state.

    Growth in population and economic activity has failed to increase the use of electricity in the U.S. for the past ten years. A fact that is not yet recognized in Dominion’s forecasting model. The only source of recent growth in electricity use in Dominion’s service territory has been from data centers. Many of the major data center owners wrote the SCC saying that they intend to continue developing new data centers but because of improvements in the efficiency of their equipment and operations the total amount of electricity used by data centers in Virginia should stabilize or decline. Dominion’s forecasts show continued increases in demand from data centers.

    Even after an appropriate adjustment is made for the changes in efficiency and use that we are currently observing, if some amount of new capacity is needed, it can be obtained from the substantial surplus of generating capacity that exists within PJM. With the addition of Greensville, Dominion also has excess capacityNew capacity for the short-term can be obtained at a much lower cost to customers than adding a new facility to the ratebase that will take at least 35 years to pay off.

    It is no longer a question of “where will the electricity come from.” We will have what we need. The bigger issue will become “how much more will we have to pay for all that Dominion has built?”

    The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a response to the flattening of utility load growth and resulting revenues. Dominion Energy desires an increasing stream of profits to please shareholders. This is how modern unregulated companies run. However, with over 90% percent of the parent company’s cash flow coming from regulated enterprises, the century-old agreement of fair rates in exchange for a fair return must be honored. The solution is not to burden customers with expensive projects that they don’t need, but to collaborate in creating a modern way that our important utilities can continue to prosper by doing what is good for their customers.

  13. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Comrade Bacon,
    Privet! Nice to see you make doing the good work on behalf of glorious utility!
    Actually, oI think there are some little mistakes being made here. Pipelines need markets, otherwise there is no need for them. Hard to predict. Back in the good old days, we had Gosplan, the state agency tasked with predicting how much and when — everything from how many rivets needed, exactly and million BTU*s of natural gas to pairs of underwear. It was all tied to a universal whole that only scientific Marxism-Leninism could surmise Problem was that everybody lied about how much was really needed. Smart play. Wins all the way around. Making big predictions meant bigger rubles. Bigger rubles meant bigger construction. That, of course means bigger payoffs and influence. Who cares if gas is not really needed? All we had to do was come up with enough stale cabbage to meet the “Pyta Letka”(Five Year Plan ). Didn’t matter next Pyta Letka. Doesn’t matter that Dominions subsidiary does not have essential pipeline to hook up to one of its natural gas plants. The important thing is to get all permits, Central Committee approvals and then, “Dyvia.” (Go!). Maybe gas gets frozen and goes to India? Ha-Ha! Who cares?

    Now there might be rumbles that State Corporation Commission (if that like Gosplan?) is finally changing its tune. They are actually looking at the data . This is a change. But as you so brilliantly observe, glorious utility is going back to trustworthy practices of lawsuits, ad hominem attacks and disinformatzia (We have always been very, very good at that!). Let’s hope we don’t get to “Mokriye Delat” ( “Wet Affairs where outspoken and incorrect opponents of glorious utility are liquidated, maybe with their children in a suburb of London or with the polonium ball in the tip of the umbrella).
    In any case, let me say it is wondrous to have you back. And, Jim, “Pravda” does mean truth or it can mean whatever it to mean.

    With warmest, fraternal greetings and compliments on your remarkable work,
    Comrade Petka

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      No known Dominion operative carrying an umbrella will sneak up on me, comrade!

    2. ebardwell Avatar

      Not often a discussion about energy policy makes me laugh out loud. Well played, comrade.

    3. LarrytheG Avatar

      excellent commentary Peter!

  14. LarrytheG Avatar

    So the commentary that Tom provides seems to have a significant ring of truth to it and yet TMT seems to prefer Dominion’s narrative because Tom’s is associated with the “enviros”.

    I’d argue that Tom’s arguments are fairly and legitimately in the interests of taxpayers and ratepayers and I’d be interested in hearing from those on Dominions side – any counter views on the specifics articulated by Tom.

    Finally, Tom wants Dominion to stay in the utility business and transform into a successful 21st-century energy company but apparently, Dominion and supporters are more interested in holding on to an obsolete model which fully intends to have current taxpayers and ratepayers continue to finance it.

    For EVERYONE’s good – Dominion and ratepayers and taxpayers – this has to change

    To this point Dominion apparently thinks it is big and powerful enough with strong support in the GA to … basically not change…

    A good example is when TMT is skeptical that he could buy cleaner green energy. Well.. he can’t and he never will as long as the current Dominion method of operating does not change and they are opposed to it changing.

    Where are the non-enviro folks on this issue? Where are they – period?

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      Larry – you are putting words in my mouth. I’m NOT advocating Dominion’s position on any issue. What I am arguing is that the environmentalists’ positions are not the same as those of consumers.

      Even with today’s law, if one or more green power generating company could produce electricity at a rate that was below Dominion’s price and advertised it, pressure would develop to modify the law’s preventing competition in the power generation market. Indeed, I think there is a section now that permits a consumer to buy all of his/her electricity from a renewable power producer.

      My point is that, in the event, lower-priced renewable energy was readily available, consumer demand would be sufficient to force changes in the law and people would be buying electricity not generated by Dominion. Any many people would be buying all their electricity from a renewable source. But despite, environmentalists’ rhetoric, there isn’t any cheaper green power despite claims to the contrary. It’s a scam.

      What’s wrong with consumers demanding truth from all stakeholders, Dominion and the environmentalists?

    2. ebardwell Avatar

      While energy prices are important, I think that those who consider the cost per kilowatt-hour the only bottom line worth considering are misguided in the same way a CEO focused solely on next quarter’s earnings is misguided. Short-term thinking is a trap humans are so prone to falling into, unfortunately. But how expensive would solar have to be before it’s more expensive than 10 percent of the economy?:

      1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

        Your answer exemplifies why a buffoon like Donald Trump beat lifetime politician Hillary Clinton despite the constant support of the media. Paying bills, including energy bills, is a challenge for much of America. Being looked down upon for not wanting to pay higher bills and have less disposable income so that the coastal elite’s oceanfront property is protected is a tad offensive. It is like Al Gore jetting across the country to talk about global warming.

        If the oceans are rising and will continue to do so, the prudent course of action is to adopt policies that encourage people to move away from low-lying areas. Ditto for public facilities unless location critical. Also, why aren’t we levying heavy taxes on property located in areas likely to flood? Shouldn’t owners pay a considerable amount of the costs for mitigating future damage if we ask people and businesses located no where near flood areas to pay more for energy to address climate change? Why are just the people in fly-over land being charged with the costs?

        I suspect that much of fly-over America would just as soon see the self-appointed American elites on the two coasts drown due to rising oceans. And I’m only half-joking.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          So it’s the “Coastal Elites” who are in favor of govt-subsidized flood insurance? Do those elites believe in Global Warming or are they skeptics? Something seems amiss here on the narrative…

          ebardwell has an important point – if all we do is focus on the short term – and make decisions that will affect the long term – … it’s too later when we get to that long term and things have gone to hell in a handbasket – you can’t just “fix” them by “undoing”.

          We have a LOT of ways to make good decisions right now – cost-effective ways but some of us insist on penny wise and pound foolish. Seems to be a human thing.

        2. ebardwell Avatar

          Your last paragraph illustrates the nihilism underlying the do-nothing attitudes of people who like to pretend to be the voice of reason. Only psychopathy or despair could drive any wish to see the great cities of America underwater. (Not to mention the amber waves of grain of the heartland turned to tundra).
          Clever dodge saying it’s “fly-over America,” not yourself, harboring such vicious fantasies. Assuming you are different, what do propose that we DO? I am truly, sincerely, listening.

          1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

            I believe that humans can and do affect climate but are not the only causes of changes. I don’t think we know much about climate or can explain historical changes. I think we need to be careful of whatever we emit into the air or water. I think we need to look for affordable, reliable and renewable sources of power.

            I also believe people crave power – power over others. And that people craving power will lie and cheat to get and maintain power. Power often leads to money and lots of power to lots of money. Further, organizations as they age become less focused on their original goals and become more focused on continuing their existence.

            Let’s move beyond the emotions of “seeing great cities underwater.” Take either New York City or San Francisco. The facts show that significant portions of those cities are built on landfill. We have land where nature would have water. And those areas are prone to flooding. Indeed, about the only parts of Manhattan that flooded during Hurricane Sandy were areas of landfill.

            Let’s assume arguendo that there is some duty on the part of all Americans to address climate change and rising oceans caused by climate change. Does the same duty extend to property located on landfill than to natural locations? If so, why? Shouldn’t there be a duty to mitigate future harm by abandoning locations that are likely to be flooded by rising seas because they are not built on terra firma? If not, why not?

            Shouldn’t we also push to remove beach houses and other structures on barrier islands (again over time)? Shouldn’t we push to remove structures located in flood plans that could be affected by rising sea levels? Why is it fair to put the entire cost of rising sea levels on users of energy when we have substantial structures located in places likely to be affected by rising sea level? Why do those people get a free ride? Why aren’t we advocating that the beneficiaries pay a goodly share of the costs for protecting their property?

  15. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: ” My point is that, in the event, lower-priced renewable energy was readily available, consumer demand would be sufficient to force changes in the law and people would be buying electricity not generated by Dominion. ”

    how would we know that as long as the law right now essentially prohibits 3rd party solar ?

    So aren’t you actually advocating not changing anything right now which then becomes a chicken/egg argument?

    re: consumers getting the truth. Where are they going to get it from if there are no consumer groups providing it and the nearest thing to it is the enviros?

    I don’t think solar is a scam at all but I do acknowledge that if it were truly cost-effective – we’d see it as a primary daytime source of power on the world’s islands – instead of diesel generation.

    At the same time, we already know that a residential solar system will pay for itself in a decade or so… however, to be fair, that house will still need grid power and … I’ll agree again with your argument that you should not have to subsidize the grid power to that residential solar user – that, in effect, the current rates are predicated on everyone using grid power and if people use solar – the stranded/embedded costs won’t change and still have to be paid.

    So I’m agreeing with much of what you argue EXCEPT that I don’t see anyone outside of the SCC and AG – a non-government citizen consumer interest group advocating for consumers of which we have the profits that Dom wants to keep, the taxes rebated, they want to keep, and they want you and I to pay the costs of whatever grid transformation projects they want to build without any ROI measures. Who supports you and me on these issues besides the enviros who have made these things issues?

  16. As soon as someone mentions the need to diversify energy sources, I get out my checkbook in preparation for paying more for electricity. When it comes to state/utility monopoly, to me “diversification” is a euphemism for avoiding the most cost-efficitve choices, which are less profitable.

    When NJ was hell-bent on more coal in 1990’s, the rationale was need to diversify away from nukes and nat gas. But they really just wanted to build what they wanted to build.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      yup…. consider the Grid “transformation” Act also. Big plans to make the grid “better” – oh and there will be a rate hike to do it…

  17. ebardwell Avatar

    Possibly the most absurd thing in this entire laughable piece is the idea that Dominion Energy has ever been “nice.” Having participated on the environmentalist side in a closed-door meeting with one of Dominion’s well-compensated megaphones with legs, I can assure you that “smarmily condescending” is as benevolent as they get even when they’re trying.

    Dominion people are just so mad that their understanding of the social contract has broken down. For so long they’ve pulled stuff out of their collective butt, smeared it on permit applications, and had their projects approved by subservient regulators. They’re godsmacked that people in a position of trust might actually compare the words they put on paper to some version of reality.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      I guess “nice” means if you stay out of their way and don’t annoy them they won’t call you a “liar” ??

      1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

        When you play in the big leagues, you have to expect to be bumped now and then. I once testified to the VSCC as an expert witness on utility rate-setting against declining block schedules if the Commission wanted to push conservation. It was contrary to Dominion’s position and, believe it or not, Dominion’s attorney cross-examined me. And I survived. Testing the other side’s arguments is how we get at the truth.

  18. LarrytheG Avatar

    just fyi: ” Dominion files to recover $302 million from ratepayers for environmental upgrades
    By MEL LEONOR Richmond Times–Dispatch Dec 14, 2018

    Dominion Energy is angling to recover roughly $302.4 million from ratepayers across the state to cover the cost of upgrading three coal-burning power plants to meet federal and state environmental regulations.

    The application filed with the State Corporation Commission on Friday would allow the company to recover the cost of the projects, along with a return of 9.2 percent. Households using roughly 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month would see their bills rise by $2.15 starting November 2019.”

  19. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    I am not going to venture into the merits of this discussion because I am not remotely qualified to do so. I am commenting primarily to say that this discussion is an example of why I have long admired this blog. Except for a couple of instances, the discussion was based on specific arguments, with examples, rather than broad generalities. Having said that, I do have a couple of comments:
    1. It seemed to me that those generally in favor of Dominion failed to try to rebut most of the specific points being made by those critical of the company.
    2. I find it astounding and hilarious that mighty Dominion has been stymied (perhaps temporarily, but for the time being at least) by a narrow, sometimes hardly distinguishable, trail through the woods!

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