by David Wojick
Dominion Energy, Virginia’s big electric utility, is telling the state it does not foresee complying with the 2045 net zero power target in the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA). The preferred option in Dominion’s latest Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) retires no fossil-fueled power generators, other than the few old ones that are already in the process of retirement. In fact, it adds a lot more fossil juice.
Up front in the IRP, Dominion puts it this way: “Due to an increasing load forecast, and the need for dispatchable generation, the Alternative Plans show additional natural-gas-fired resources and preserve existing carbon-emitting units beyond statutory retirement deadlines established in the VCEA. The law explicitly authorizes the Company to petition the SCC for relief from these requirements on the basis that the unit retirements would threaten the reliability or security of electric service to customers.”
So, in effect, this is a notice to Virginia’s utility regulator, the State Corporation Commission (SCC), that Dominion is prepared to petition for permission to not comply with the net zero power generation mandate in the VCEA. Continue reading
by David Wojik
The offshore wind industry is suffering a runaway cost crisis, but Dominion Energy says the cost of its monster project will not go up. Apparently, there is not even a risk of it going up. This preposterous claim is worth exploring.
On the crisis side, I recently wrote about it in general terms. See my https://www.cfact.org/2023/07/26/offshore-wind-has-a-cost-crisis/.
The financial magazine Barron’s has done some work on this crisis situation. Here is a telling quote from a recent article:
But behind the scenes, the news about wind power is more sobering. Financially, the industry is teetering, with a parade of companies planning to renegotiate or pull out of contracts, jeopardizing plans for projects that were expected to provide electricity for millions of homes. Inflation is erasing profits, causing some of the largest energy firms in the world to back away. “Returns on offshore wind are becoming more and more challenged,” Shell CEO Wael Sawan told Barron’s last month, just days after a Shell joint venture said it would pull out of a power contract in Massachusetts. Shell won’t build renewable projects that can’t earn initial returns of 6% to 8%, he said. Continue reading
Tethys, wife of Oceanus and mother of the river gods.
by David Wojick
The Virginia wind-versus-whales story has taken a turn for the worse. Worse for the severely endangered Right Whales that is. My research has found what may be some really bad news.
Meet Tethys. Not the real Tethys, the mythical Greek Titan of the sea, but the U.S. Department of Energy’s center for reporting research on the environmental impact of energy technology on sea life, including whales. This is the science side of DOE (where I used to work), not the Ocean Energy development side. Continue reading
by David Wojick
In my previous article I raised this question: what is the potential adverse impact of Virginia’s massive offshore wind project on the severely endangered North Atlantic Right Whales? Answering this basic question should be a central feature of the upcoming Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA) required for the wind project by the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).
The 70-ton North Atlantic Right Whales migrate through Virginia’s offshore waters twice a year, making the impact of these proposed huge offshore wind projects a serious question. I have been doing some digging, and the results are puzzling. We may have some secret science going on.
To begin with, while there has been a lot of research on these whales, it has almost all been done in their northern and southern habitat zones. There is almost nothing on migration, even though migration is especially dangerous for any critters that do it, whales included.
So, it is not clear that we even have a clear picture of how they migrate through the waters where these massive wind projects are proposed. A lot of the risk depends on how they migrate, and we seem not to know much about that.
I say we “seem not to know” because someone in the federal government may actually know more than they are prepared to divulge. This is where it gets puzzling, as follows. Continue reading
by David Wojick
The massive offshore wind (OSW) project proposed by Dominion Energy may pose a serious threat to the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale population. A comprehensive environmental impact assessment is required to determine the extent of this threat and the mitigation it might require. The same is true for the other proposed Mid-Atlantic OSW projects.
The North Atlantic Right Whale is reported to be the world’s most endangered large whale, with an estimated population of just a few hundred critters. They winter off of Florida and Georgia, but summer off New England. They migrate through the coastal waters off of Virginia twice a year, including that year’s baby whales. They can grow to over 50 feet in length and weigh more than 70 tons. Protecting them is a major challenge. Continue reading
By David Wojick
My regular readers know that I have been fussing about the threat of hurricanes destroying proposed Atlantic coast offshore wind arrays. The issue arises because the offshore wind industry is based in Europe, which does not get hurricanes. My focus has been Dominion’s massive project off Virginia, but the whole East Coast is hurricane alley.
Now I have found some research that actually quantifies the threat and it is very real. It looks like wind generators will have to be redesigned specifically to withstand hurricanes. In fact, that work is underway. In the meantime we should not be building conventional offshore wind towers. Continue reading
by David Wojick
Loyal Baconeers know what the so-called “Honesty Gap” is, as we have been discussing it at length. It is heavily featured in a recent report from the Virginia Department of Education. The gap itself is the big difference between the numerical thresholds of “proficiency” used by Virginia versus the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for certain test regimes. NAEP’s threshold is much higher than Virginia’s (and most other States).
The gap has nothing to do with honesty, just language. Virginia has two tiers of passing scores: “proficient” and “advanced.” NAEP has three: “basic,” “proficient” and “advanced.” What Virginia calls proficient aligns closely to what NAEP calls basic. Comparing Virginia students’ SOL pass rates at the proficient level with their NAEP pass rates at the proficient level is likening apples to organges.
So, where does “honesty” come in? This is where the story gets interesting, and in my view unpleasant. It turns out that “honesty gap” is hyperbolic rhetoric, spawned by an advocacy group.
The Honesty Gap ( HonestyGap.org) is a project of the Collaborative for Student Success, which is funded by a number of prominent left-wing foundations. The project home page immediately hits you with this grandiose pronouncement:
Parents deserve the truth. Historically, states have exaggerated the percent of students who are proficient – as demonstrated by the huge gaps that have existed between state NAEP scores and what states report as their proficiency rate.