by Steve Haner
If you have nothing substantive to offer, try some meaningless virtue signaling. That’s the only way to interpret a claim from 36 General Assembly Democrats that they are taking steps to oppose “Dominion raising Virginian’s energy bills by $147 million,” to quote a Blue Virginia headline today.
The story reports on a letter to the State Corporation Commission signed by three state senators and 33 delegates, asking the SCC to support a lower authorized return on equity for Dominion Energy Virginia for 2019 and 2020. Here is the “so what” paragraph: Continue reading
Ørsted’s Hayes Framme. Photo credit: Philip Shucet
by James A. Bacon
In its original incarnation a few years back, the two-turbine wind project Dominion Energy proposed to build off the Virginia Beach coast was billed as a “research” project. In the hope of winning a $40 million federal research grant, Dominion wanted to see how well the two wind turbines held up in hurricane conditions of the mid-Atlantic before committing to a large-scale wind farm.
That grant never materialized, but the project lives on. According to the latest project time-line, if all goes according to schedule, the two turbines will be complete by August 2020. Now Dominion and its contractor, Ørsted Energy, are calling the $300 million investment in Virginia’s renewable energy future a “demonstration” project.
The Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project will have no new technology and little new engineering. The turbines will collect data that might be useful when planning the final configuration of far bigger wind farm proposed by Dominion. But there is no assurance that the turbines will encounter hurricane conditions before Dominion builds the wind farm. Subject to regulatory approvals, the utility says it ” plans to invest up to $1.1 billion in offshore wind” by 2023.
What, then, is the purpose of the two turbines, which will produce the most expensive electricity on a cost-per-kilowatt basis in the entire Dominion system? I posed that question to Dominion a month ago and got this response, which contained the answer but, for lack of context, I did not appreciate. Accordingly, when invited to chat with Hayes Framme, an aide to former Governor Terry McAuliffe who now handles government relations and communications for Ørsted, I jumped at the opportunity to ask the question anew. Continue reading
Dominion Energy Virginia bill breakdown, for 1,000 kWh of residential service. Base rates were recently reduced by the federal tax cuts, and fuel fluctuates, but rate adjustment clauses (RACs) proliferate and grow, with more to come. Source: SCC
by Steve Haner
There is no sign, nine weeks out from the big General Assembly election, that the arcane and obscure field of electricity regulation is going to change any votes or win any elections in Virginia in 2019. There is plenty to debate if anybody wanted to in two recent reports now public at the SCC and linked below.
The State Corporation Commission just issued yet another report that Dominion Energy Virginia is reaping massive excess profits, more than half a billion dollars in 2017 and 2018 combined. There is very little chance that the company’s 2.45 million customer accounts (about two thirds of Virginia customers) will see any refunds or price reductions as a result. Prediction number one: The company keeps it all come the 2021 review and base rates do not change. Continue reading
by Steve Haner
The State Corporation Commission Wednesday granted motions by two competitive service providers and ordered Dominion Energy Virginia to hand over various customers. The two companies, Direct Energy Business LLC and Calpine Energy Solutions LLC, offer a 100 percent renewable energy option in the monopoly utility’s territory.
“The Commission has found that: (a) absent the instant order, Direct Energy and Calpine will suffer irreparable harm; (b) Direct Energy and Calpine have no adequate remedy at law; and (c) the Commission is satisfied of Direct Energy’s and Calpine’s equity,” reads a footnote in the order (here). Continue reading
Renewable energy certificates can have a vintage? Some might prefer fresh solar or wind power.
by Steve Haner
Like most major electric utilities now, Dominion Energy Virginia has a certain amount of energy generated by processes now designated “renewable.” Hydro power has been around for a long time, and now that is supplemented by a growing number of solar generators – owned by the company or under contract to it.
All Dominion customers are getting some of their electricity from those sources. Everyone is a little bit green. But for an extra $4.21 per 1,000 kilowatt hours, some other customer can take away your green power and leave you less green or totally not green, at least on paper. Overall the utility’s output stays the same, but it might pick up a few more dollars per month from up to 50,000 of its customers. Continue reading
With a competitive service provider, you pay it and not the utility for generation, transmission and fuel – the elements of electricity supply service.
When you use a competitive service provider (CSP) instead of the monopoly electricity company, what does the monopoly provider stop collecting? Just what part of the electric bill are big customers such as Costco and Kroger and Walmart seeking to avoid by leaving Dominion Energy Virginia?
The answer is most of it, everything covered under the bill heading “Electricity Supply Service” on the sample bill illustrated above. With a CSP, customers would stop paying Dominion for generation, transmission and fuel. If future legislation makes retail choice the rule in Virginia, customers could leave the utility and pay a CSP for their energy and the cost to make or buy it and get it to Virginia’s local grid. Continue reading
Dominion Energy Virginia is simply trying to protect the unsuspecting public from environmental fraudsters, you understand. Companies like Costco Wholesale and The Kroger Company lack the energy expertise to decide for themselves if a competitive service provider really is providing 100 percent renewable energy. They are being denied that service by Dominion for their own good.
That’s the basic argument Dominion has advanced for its refusal to allow willing customers of Direct Energy Business or Calpine Energy Solutions to switch. It has said so in briefs filed at the State Corporation Commission and repeated it during hearings on the two companies’ efforts to force Dominion to accept the various applications for competitive supply. Continue reading
Two of seventeen towers supporting the new 500kv transmission line across the James River, paid for through Rider T on your bills. Dominion photo.
Electricity bills for Dominion Energy Virginia customers jump again in September – almost $7 monthly for a residential customer using 1000 kilowatt hours – as it begins to collect on $845 million in transmission system investments over the past year. A similar level of investment is planned for next year.
The rate hike will appear on the bills in the transmission charge, Rider T, following approval of the annual Rider T update by the State Corporation Commission July 25. The final order is here. Continue reading
Outdoor data modules at Microsoft’s Boydton, VA server facility. Photo: Microsoft
A hearing on Dominion Energy Virginia’s proposal for a new market-based electricity rate for its largest customers opened Thursday with the announcement it had settled its differences with the State Corporation Commission staff and that part of the dispute was over. (The case file is here.)
As the SCC staff lined up with the utility, one of Dominion’s competitors – which has intervened in the case – took a harder line against proposal. Direct Energy Services LLC’s attorney Cliona M. Robb complained this is not a true market-based rate, but “a means for Dominion to negotiate special deals” without the SCC oversight usually required on single-company contracts.
One of the huge customers Dominion and Direct Energy are fighting over, Microsoft with its Virginia server farms, showed no enthusiasm for the compromise the SCC staff had negotiated. Microsoft is the only Dominion customer taking an active role in the dispute. It complains that the new rules are too vague and too favorable to the utility. It wants them to be much clearer, adding an “or else.” Continue reading
Dominion Energy Virginia has opened a new and aggressive front in its economic war against companies seeking to offer Virginians retail choice for electricity service, directly attacking two firms promising 100 percent renewable energy to lure away environmentally minded customers.
In separate filings on July 15, the utility charged that both Direct Energy Services LLC and Calpine Energy Solutions LLC are not meeting the requirements under the law to claim they are offering 100 percent renewable energy. It asks the State Corporation Commission for a declaratory judgment on those requirements and refuses to transfer any more of its customer accounts over to those firms until the SCC rules. Here is the motion against Direct Energy and here is the similar move against Calpine.
Both companies quickly responded with motions for injunctive relief, asking the SCC to order Dominion to continue transferring customers until the dispute is resolved. How many customers have signed up for the competitive service providers only to be held in limbo is not included in the filings, although Calpine provided a confidential list to the SCC. Continue reading
Source: Dominion Power website. Click for larger view.
Here is what I had to say in today’s The Roanoke Times about Dominion Energy Virginia’s proposed pumped storage facility in Tazewell County, addressed to the people so excited about the revenue it will generate. This posting is for the people here in the other part of Virginia who pay the bills for the utility.
Read here how Dominion is selling this to the Southwest Virginians who are not its customers, promising hundreds of millions of dollars in this propaganda. That all would come from our future bills. The $320 million in estimated benefits to them is just a start on what it will cost us because we will also be paying over decades for:
- The profits to the stockholders,
- The interest on any bonds or loans,
- The massive construction project itself, and
- No additional electricity generation, just a storage system for electricity generated elsewhere, much of it lost over the hundreds of miles of transmission lines.
Source: SCC Staff summary.
The State Corporation Commission today approved Dominion Energy Virginia’s Integrated Resource Plan, laying out possible investment combinations to keep the power flowing in its territory over the next fifteen years. It also laid out the costs, in excess of $18 billion of investments plus interest plus profit margin to be paid by future customers.
The Commission added the standard caveat that individual decisions to build new generation, energy storage or transmission still must come to the SCC for the regular review. In some cases the judges will have full discretion to approve or reject proposals, but the General Assembly (at Dominion’s suggestion) has also dictated in state law outcomes for several expensive choices. Continue reading
Dominion Energy Virginia is taking advantage of its annual, and usually boring, fuel cost review to move the cost of any future carbon tax or emissions allowances out of its fixed base rates and into its variable fuel charge. If the State Corporation Commission agrees it could either lower or raise your bill someday but place your bets on the latter.
The case (here) has also drawn testimony that Dominion has so much natural gas capacity under contract in existing pipelines that it is selling the excess capacity to others – about 25 percent of it, in the case of the Transco pipeline. It needs no more capacity, according to a witness hired by environmental groups.
UPDATE: Through a Twitter response I’m told that Dominion has notified other parties it will withdraw the request to place any future CO2 costs into the fuel charge, and the document I missed has been flagged. So the “is” in the lede paragraph is now a “was.” I’ll leave the story up because it remains something to watch. Continue reading
Holy mackerel, is this for real? After years of controversy, Dominion Energy finally built its $400 million electric transmission line across a historic stretch of the James River, ensuring a secure supply of electricity to the Virginia Peninsula. Now a legal challenge puts the project in jeopardy — after the transmission line has been built! It is not clear whether an unfavorable court ruling would require Dominion to tear down the line, reports The Virginia Mercury. Whether you’re pro-Dominion or anti-Dominion, there is something acutely dysfunctional about a system of governance that would allow a power company to build a $400 million transmission line and then force the company to tear it down.
Step aside, Uber! Step aside, Tesla! With financial support from Dominion Energy, Fairfax County will launch a self-driving, electric-powered shuttle between the Dunn Loring Metro station and the Mosaic District, reports WTOP. The Fairfax County bus would be the first state-funded autonomous electric shuttle for public use in Virginia, and the first to run on roads that are open to the public. I have no idea if this idea will prove to be economically sustainable. But I do believe in small experiments. It makes far more sense to test the concept than to roll out a full-fledged program. Test. Learn. Modify. Test again. Scale up when you’ve got it right.
Pumped storage or battery storage? Having eliminated a proposed Wise County location from consideration, Dominion Energy has narrowed its search for a hydroelectric pumped-storage site to Tazewell County, reports the Roanoke Times. Continue reading
It has been over a month since a coalition of unnatural allies announced a proposal to revise Virginia’s electricity regulation system – again – but the idea dropped from view fairly quickly. One of the main and most visible proponents, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, has now taken on a very different role in the Trump Administration. Continue reading