Dominion Energy has announced the construction of six new solar farms — three in Virginia and three in North Carolina – to offset the electricity demand of Facebook data centers in the two states. The 590 megawatts of new renewable energy generation will be enough to power 147,000 homes at peak output.
The partnership will support Dominion’s goal of having 3,000 megawatts of new solar and wind energy in operation or under development by 2022 and Facebook’s goal of supporting its global operations with 100% renewable energy by the end of 2020. (See the press release here.)
In the abstract, I’m all in favor of generating electricity with clean, renewable energy sources like solar. But I’m still trying to understand the implications of the solar rush for grid stability and ratepayers. Continue reading
Organic Carbon Capture Device
Wait. How many suspended licenses? Today’s Virginia Mercury has one of those stories that raises more questions than it answers, this one about the suspended driving license issue. My warning that there would be massive lines at DMV were groundless because, hey, these people still have their actual licenses. DMV never got them back or ordered them destroyed. Do you think that might have contributed to the decision so many debtors made to keep driving and blow off the collection efforts? And while DMV reports 627,000 licenses eligible for restoration, it turns out DMV has addresses for fewer than half that number, only 246,000. You can discern the problem may be less severe than the hype using the (excellent, by the way) interactive map included with the Virginia Mercury story. You will note only a handful of localities show a large percentage of suspended licenses (in Richmond City almost ten percent, but in most one to two.) That also raises questions about the reported numbers. Maybe there’s another explanation for the discrepancy between licenses and addresses? Continue reading
Ratepayers of Dominion Energy Virginia will start in June to pay for construction and operation of two solar energy facilities in Surry County intended to meet Facebook’s renewable energy goals. The State Corporation Commission decided one issue created by the case in favor of consumers but punted on another that pit one group of customers against another.
In an opinion released this week, the SCC allowed Dominion to proceed with a new rate adjustment clause on customer but kept alive a dispute over how to allocate the costs between various classes of electricity customers. The SCC staff and the Office of the Attorney General are complaining that the traditional cost allocation formula is less fair to residential customers when the generator is non-dispatchable, intermittent and provides its benefit through lower fuel costs.
Back in January, the SCC approved the certificates of public necessity for the project, 240 megawatts in two fields designated US-3, which will cost about $410 million to build and $843 million in total over its lifetime. In response to SCC staff concerns, reported in Bacon’s Rebellion in November, it put various conditions on the approval intended to protect customers if the project fails to produce as much electricity as promised. Continue reading
The Mountain Valley Pipeline route on Brush Mountain, July 18, 2018. (Heather Rousseau/The Roanoke Times)
The building season is here, but for developers of Virginia’s two hotly-contested natural gas pipelines, activity is back in the government agencies and courthouses. The construction sites remain largely silent, delays running up the ultimate cost of the projects, including the cost of failure.
Here is my (probably flawed) attempt at a status report. And you thought Game of Thrones is a complicated plot. Continue reading
Dominion Energy Virginia’s proposed market-based pricing structure for large industrial customers has been criticized as a way for the utility to double collect, harking back to a key issue during the 2018 legislative push for its Grid Transformation and Security Act.
The criticism comes in an overall endorsement by Microsoft Corporation of the proposal pending at the State Corporation Commission. Microsoft owns a growing fleet of data centers in Dominion’s territory and is already eligible to seek electricity from a competitive service provider (CSP). The purpose of this new rate (the full case record is here) is to keep big customers happy, so they lose interest in third-party providers. One detail of the proposal has Microsoft unhappy. Continue reading
The large retail establishments seeking to aggregate their electricity demand and take their business away from Dominion Energy Virginia have not been dissuaded by a February ruling that went against them. One of the petitioners in that case is seeking reconsideration, and the petitioner in another major case has sharpened its argument that the State Corporation Commission erred.
If the policy goal is now to slow demand, to prevent the need to build more utility-owned plants in Virginia, isn’t this the better and more reliable path? The utility-managed demand response efforts funded by ratepayers aren’t having much impact, as previously reported. Continue reading
Third generation Nest programmable thermostat. You may be asked to buy one for your neighbor, with a sweetener for Dominion.
Buying yourself a kilowatt hour of electricity costs about twelve cents. Persuading your next-door neighbor or the store at the corner to use less electricity is three times as expensive, costing about 35 cents per kilowatt hour.
That figure comes from a fresh exhibit filed by Dominion Energy Virginia with the State Corporation Commission, an exhibit only filed because a member of the court asked a simple question from the bench: What has all the spending on energy efficiency programs cost to date and what has been the result? If that information was buried in the thousands of pages of data on the case, he hadn’t found it. Continue reading
Fellow electricity ratepayers, we just took it in the neck again.
This morning’s Richmond Times-Dispatch brings the news that Dominion Energy Virginia will not seek to count lost revenue as one of the cost elements in the energy efficiency program it was ordered to undertake by the 2018 Ratepayer Bill Transformation Act. This follows an earlier story, also by the Associated Press, that Governor Ralph Northam has written the company to insist on that position.
Missing from both stories is a key fact: Dominion won’t spend a dime. It is all your money. When the 2018 General Assembly mandated $870 million of spending on energy efficiency and demand response programs, it was the same as a near-billion dollar tax increase. One of many in the bill. Now the $870 million customer cost will get larger. Continue reading
Dominion Energy has filed an application to build two new electric substations in Loudoun County to serve a growing population and the boom in data centers…. mostly the data centers.
A typical data center consumes about the same amount of power as 7,500 residential households. There are more than 100 data centers operating in Loudoun now, according to the Washington Business Journal, with many more in the development pipeline. Their power demand is equal to that of about 750,000 homes. Loudoun County expects its population to grow from about 400,000 residents today to nearly 500,000 by 2045.
Dominion’s proposed 230-kilovolt switching stations will have dedicated circuits for future data center customers. Data center demand is forcing a reconfiguration of Virginia’s electric grid. In addition to the substations, Dominion needs to build or upgrade electric transmission lines to Northern Virginia. Needless to say, none of these projects are popular. Everyone likes the tax revenue they generate, but no one wants electric grid infrastructure in their back yard.
Paying an electric utility for power it doesn’t sell is the economic equivalent of paying a farmer not to grow corn or soybeans, and the result will be the same as well – higher consumer prices.
In a legal memorandum filed Friday, Dominion Energy Virginia doubled down on its request that about 40 percent of the money it seeks to recover for a series of new demand management programs be compensation for lost revenue. If the programs work, and it is verified they reduced demand, Dominion wants to be paid for the electricity it didn’t sell. Over and over, apparently. Continue reading
Efforts by large electricity customers to aggregate their locations into one account eligible to seek a competitive supplier suffered a setback in Monday’s ruling against one such petition. But another set of petitioners was in a State Corporation Commission hearing room Wednesday taking another crack at it.
The petition rejected Monday was from Wal-Mart and Sam’s Stores. The hearing yesterday involved 128 locations of grocery chains Kroger and Harris-Teeter, seeking to consolidate into one account in Dominion Energy Virginia territory with a peak demand of 45 megawatts. The case record had been built and was ripe for a hearing, so on it went in front of a hearing examiner. Continue reading
Not at the table? Then you are on the menu.
Others will have this story and I like to post things on Bacon’s Rebellion which are unique. But I do have something to add to today’s State Corporation Commission decision to deny Wal-Mart Stores permission to leave Virginia’s monopoly electric companies. The short decision is worth reading. Continue reading
From Opinion Dynamics report on PG&E’s Home Energy Report program, showing most in the program did not change their consumption of energy. Click for larger view.
Okay, for the wonks among you: At my request, the State Corporation Commission staff directed me to the full report on Pacific Gas and Electric’s Home Energy Report (HER) Program, which found that more people in the program increased their consumption of electricity and gas than decreased it. Continue reading
If you thought the tax conformity debate took too long at the General Assembly, check out the fight at the State Corporation Commission over Dominion Energy Virginia’s corporate income tax bill. The SCC still hasn’t decided how much to cut Dominion’s base rates to reflect its lower income tax payments, but a decision is close.
There are three reasons why this case is worth exploring. Continue reading
Bill impact table included in SCC staff testimony on demand management programs case, showing impact of all pending Dominion requests. Click for larger view.
The State Corporation Commission staff has provided an updated version of a table tracking the possible rate impact of various Dominion Energy Virginia cases pending before the commission, most creating or adjusting rate adjustment clauses (RACs). It starts with a baseline of $117.64 for the February monthly cost to that famous 1000-kilowatt hour typical customer, who of course does not exist.
The largest cost increases visible on the horizon are not included.
Some of the cases which are tracked have been decided and some are pending. The table was included in the staff testimony about the proposed demand management programs paid for with Riders C1A and C2A and includes the $0.61 per month increase in them Dominion is requesting. Continue reading