By Steve Haner
Governor Glenn Youngkin’s proposal to ensure that any future wave of wind turbines built off Virginia must follow a real competitive bid process ended up dead as a beached whale. The General Assembly didn’t just kill his proposed amendment during its reconvened session April 12, it refused to even take up the matter.
Both the Republican-controlled House of Delegates and Democrat-controlled Senate voted to “pass by” the substitutes. The substitutes then died when the motion to adjourn was approved at the end of the day. Such a motion is often used to avoid a recorded vote loaded with political risk.
Rejection of the amendments, first discussed here, leaves Youngkin (R) free to veto the underlying bill (actually two identical bills, one in each chamber), but his argument was not with the underlying bills themselves. He was just trying to weaken Dominion Energy Virginia’s control over the wind development process, which has led to Virginia building the first and only $10 billion project with all the cost and risk on its ratepayers. At this point, any second phase will likely be the same.
The gubernatorial amendment on competitive bidding for offshore wind was injecting a new issue in the last stage of the 2023 session. Youngkin offered other amendments which constituted repeat efforts to pass things rejected during the regular part of the session. They met the same fate, some also by motions to pass by supported by his own party. Continue reading →
Rise and fall of home runs in major and minor leagues compared. No climate change in minor league parks! Source: Roger Pielke Jr.
by Steve Haner
Maybe if a claim is repeated more than once, it won’t sound so absurd? Perhaps that is why the Richmond Times-Dispatch felt it necessary to print two stories today about the recent ludicrous claim that “climate change” is making it easier to hit a home run.
“Since 2010, more than 500 dingers can be linked to warmer than average conditions because of climate change, according to a new study,” is the summary in a photo cutline illustrating one of the stories, a Washington Post reprint on page C-2. The paper’s full-time climate alarmism correspondent Sean Sublette also discusses the “study” in his column on his daily weather and climate crisis page.
Perhaps neither had seen that the Post’s original story quickly drew a response so strong as to constitute disproof, from another climate scientist, this one not a member of the climate crisis priesthood. The Unbeliever dared to compare the Major League Baseball home run statistics at the heart of the “study” with similar home run statistics from AAA baseball, the NCAA’s Division 1 baseball teams, and even the Japanese professional leagues.
The home run patterns there are different. It seems climate change is only happening in MLB stadiums. What a relief!
The University of Colorado’s Roger Pielke, Jr. packaged his response on Twitter, and it was then shared by The Wall Street Journal. Very much worth a read. You won’t find any of the rebuttal data in that failed rag of a Richmond newspaper. Continue reading →
People don’t understand! These political leadership jobs are hard! It is a great sacrifice to serve, and it is only fair that the taxpayers contribute to the comfort and convenience of those of us working so hard for their better future. They can be so ungrateful….
Did that go through Fairfax Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay’s mind as he watched local WJLA-7 news kick him around like a rag doll yesterday for using a county car on personal business and, worse, political business? Or was it what should have gone through his mind: How could I be so dumb and greedy and assume nobody would notice or care?
This is not a new story, because it happens often and gets ratted out all the time. This is not a partisan story, because this behavior crosses all lines. Lack of electoral competition does contribute to this way of thinking. This may not be a fatal blow for Democrat McKay, who as board chairman recently raised his pay from $100,000 to $138,000 per year (as the televised report helpfully reminds us.)
No, this is a “when will they ever learn” story. People who don’t get the privilege of transportation with the entire bill paid by involuntary tax levies, people who must pay the hated car taxes and registration fees and fuel bills on their cars, tend to get irritated when they find out politicians (or any government employees) use public cars for tons of daily private business.
Someone please forward this to the Internal Revenue Service. I know the folks at the Virginia Department of Taxation, and they can check to see if McKay’s valuable perk was declared for tax purposes. It is very much supposed to be. Continue reading →
by Steve Haner
The Richmond City Council member seeking to kill Richmond Gas Works is finally asking her colleagues to put some money behind her dream, seeking a budget amendment to pay for a study on a path to ending the government-owned utility.
Thus reports Patrick Larsen of Virginia Public Media, who wrote (and presumably also broadcast) on March 31 about Councilwoman Katherine Jordan’s request for $200,000 to be added to the next Richmond budget. This is about 18 months after she sponsored a successful council resolution committing the city to an anti-fossil-fuel future that would include ending the provision of natural gas to its residents.
The city natural gas monopoly also has the exclusive right to serve all of Henrico County, much of Chesterfield County and even a part of Hanover County. Along with residential and commercial customers it also serves several major industries using natural gas in their manufacturing processes. Those outside city lines have had no vote in electing Richmond’s City Council.
No state law requires the city to maintain its natural gas service, but contractual and debt obligations could complicate an effort to shut down the utility without selling it to another provider. Selling the physical assets and territory to another provider, very much a viable option, would not advance the goal of eliminating the use of natural gas to heat homes, cook food or run factories. Continue reading →
Dominion’s proposed offshore wind project. Phase two, similar in size, would build out to the east.
By Steve Haner
Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) has proposed a stronger requirement in state law that any second wave of offshore wind serving Virginia be subjected to a competitive procurement process, rather than simply allowing Dominion Energy Virginia to build it with all the costs and risks imposed on its customers.
The planned 176-turbine Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project now under federal environmental review remains the only such project in the United States which is being developed directly by a monopoly utility. Other projects involve third-party developers raising the capital and taking on much of the financial risk for the multi-billion-dollar investments, then selling the power to utilities.
This is just one of several consumer-oriented amendments Youngkin proposed on a series of energy bills, to be voted on at the General Assembly’s reconvened session April 12. Should the Assembly reject his amendments, his option then is to either sign or veto the bill as it passed in February.
The financial and operational risk imposed on ratepayers by direct utility ownership of the wind farm was the focus of debate before the State Corporation Commission (SCC) finally authorized the project, now estimated to cost $10 billion. A method to shift some of the risk to the company’s shareholders if power output fell below projections was initially accepted but then abandoned by the regulators. Continue reading →
By Steve Haner
Nothing beats being able to expose the sleight of hand behind one climate alarmism claim by using the data from another climate alarmism claim, with both from the same source: the Richmond Times-Dispatch. It also provides a teaching moment about some of the advocates’ favorite ways to deceive.
Concerned you might not get the message that “climate change” is responsible for making you miserable with allergies, the newspaper offered up two stories on the same topic this month. First, we had this, followed by a second story today. The basic premise that an early spring means that allergies hit earlier is correct; and then the claim is early springs are getting, in a word, earlier. Finally, predictions follow that worse is yet to come.
But two different charts are used t0 illustrate the issue, basically counting the number of days between the last spring and first fall frost. One covers a long time period (more honest) and the second uses an intentionally short time period, resulting in a knowing exaggeration intended to deceive. Continue reading →
Cover for the 2023 update of Appalachian Power Company’s plan to comply with the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) in coming decades.
by Steve Haner
Appalachian Power Company (APCO), serving Western Virginia, has now filed its annual update on Virginia Clean Economy Act compliance, including long term bill impact estimates. As the State Corporation Commission begins its review process, here are some highlights:
- The projected increases in electric bills are little changed and perhaps a bit lower than those reported a year ago. The cost for 1,000 kilowatt hours to power a home for a month was $117.09 in 2020; using the compliance plan the company prefers, it is projected to be $172.12 in 2030 (up 55%) and $193.29 (up 65%) in 2035.
- Despite all the political discussion about Virginia turning to the new, smaller nuclear reactor technology (so-called small modular reactors, or SMRs), they don’t turn up in APCO’s development plan as even an option for a long time, perhaps in 2040 when its major West Virginia coal plants will retire. Dominion Energy Virginia’s preferred VCEA compliance plan also didn’t turn to SMRs in the short term.
- Energy demand projections within Appalachian’s territory are negative, going down. Over the next 15‐year period (2023‐2037), its service territory is expected to see population decline at 0.3% per year and non‐farm employment growth of ‐0.1% per year. It projects its customer count to decline by 0.1% over this period. Internal energy requirements and peak demand are expected to decline by 0.4% per year through 2037.
Continue reading →
by Steve Haner
Customer cost projections for compliance with the Virginia Clean Economy Act have increased again from the first such estimates made in 2020. The bill for 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity from Dominion Energy Virginia to power a home for a month may rise almost $100, or 83%, by 2035.
Dominion residential customers were already paying $288 (21%) more per year for 1,000 kilowatt hours per month by December 2022, compared to May 2020, just before VCEA became law. That will cost another $547 annually by 2030 and $878 more by 2035. Cost projections are even higher for commercial and industrial customers.
After all the hyped discussion coming out of the 2023 General Assembly that regulatory changes it made will “lower electricity bills,” it is important to face reality. Ignore claims from any incumbents who say they voted to “lower bills.” VCEA compliance is still going to be very expensive, and nothing just passed changes any of that.
The most recent figures are very similar and slightly higher than those reported in 2020. They were filed last year by the utility as part of the annual VCEA compliance plan, outlining its planned conversion from fossil fuel generation to massive amounts of wind and solar power over the next two decades. Continue reading →
Whether Dominion is building the solar farm or just buying its output makes a huge difference in cost.
by Steve Haner
In preparing for the latest round of new additions to its solar generation assets, Dominion Energy Virginia rejected eight privately- developed projects which were substantially cheaper than the projects it wanted to build on its own with ratepayer money. Just how much more expensive the company-owned projects will be is not clear, but the higher costs will be locked in for decades.
It is the 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act which is driving the massive solar buildout, and one part of the statute is being read one way by the utility and another way by most of the other stakeholders. Dominion believes the law requires it to provide a fixed 35% of the new renewable electricity from third-party providers under long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs). It claims the law dictates that it must own 65% of the generation assets directly.
Just about every other party to the most recent application for new solar believes that 35% is a floor, a “no less than” target, and a higher percentage could be from PPAs. Entities taking that position include the Office of the Attorney General, environmental activists, and even large electricity users such as Walmart. The issue dominates final arguments on the application filed this week at the State Corporation Commission.
What is the solar price differential? As with far too many of these disputes, most of the key financial information is confidential, available only to case participants who have filed a promise to maintain secrecy. But in its final brief, the staff for Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) provides some dramatic comparisons. Continue reading →
With the March 8 RGGI results, Virginia power producers have now paid $590 million in carbon taxes. Click for larger view.
by Steve Haner
Since Virginia joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) compact at the start of 2021, according to data reported by the U.S. Energy Information Agency, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted to provide electricity to customers in the state has grown. Despite two years of RGGI caps and taxes, total CO2 emissions did not shrink, but grew by 3.7 million tons.
That is because the emissions total includes tracking all power producers providing electrons to the state, which is not the same as emissions from power producers located within the state. Virginia’s membership in RGGI is having the exact opposite effect from what its adherents claim it does because, as many predicted, it has forced Virginia to import far more electricity than it used to.
During the two-year period, electricity consumption within the state grew to 130 million megawatt hours, up 11%. Electricity imports grew from 14 million megawatt hours in 2020 to more than 39 million MWH in 2022, up 280%. RGGI has simply driven power production from fossil fuels used by Virginia to other states. As it has for the other RGGI member states.
These conclusions come from EIA data compiled by David Stevenson, director of the Caesar Rodney Institute in Delaware, and long a skeptic on the benefits of RGGI in this region. He added them to the growing list of public comments on the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board’s pending proposal to take Virginia out of RGGI at the end of 2023. More details and citations from Stevenson are contained in a longer discussion which you can read here; and in a table he created, which is reproduced below. Continue reading →
The states currently in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative tax compact.
by Steve Haner
Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Board is continuing through the necessary steps to repeal Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional compact that imposes an allowance cost (carbon tax) on fossil fuels used in generating electricity.
During 2021 and 2022, the tax collected about half a billion dollars from power producers, most if not all of that cost passed on to customers. Almost 70 percent of the allowances for 2021 were used by Dominion Energy Virginia, which is in the process of adding that cost back to its monthly customer bills. The next allowance auction, number nine for Virginia, is March 8. Continue reading →
Available: Lovely Main Street office space, with views.
by Steve Haner
What the 2023 General Assembly didn’t pass is also an important Virginia energy policy story, starting with failure on its part to fill the two open seats on the crucial State Corporation Commission. This follows its failure last year to fill one open seat on the three-judge panel.
As reported yesterday, advocates for restored SCC authority over utility rates had more success this year than in a long time, largely because Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) was among them. The bills awaiting his signature may not mean much if the Commission itself is barely functioning. A string of major cases for 2023 was created by these new bills, with just one commissioner and perhaps some interim substitute judges to hear them. Continue reading →
What Dominion is promoting as how to “save” you money while paying off its old fuel bills, with ten years of Tuesdays to pay. With interest.
by Steve Haner
The final version of a regulatory revision for Dominion Energy Virginia restores State Corporation Commission authority over the utility’s profit margin and rates, a major goal for Governor Glenn Youngkin (R). It was also the highest priority in a detailed energy policy put forward by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.
Of the aggressive goals set out in Dominion’s initial legislation, few were accomplished in the end. The General Assembly did agree to directly legislate a profit margin for the utility for two years, and it is an increase. Come 2025 the SCC will be free to set the next profit rate without any reference to the peer group of other utilities now required by law. Continue reading →
From this morning’s Richmond Times-Dispatch:
A reduction in Dominion Energy bills is on the way after a compromise on a new approach to regulate the company made it through the General Assembly on the last day of the session….
The compromise on electric bills — in legislation that passed nearly unanimously — would bring an immediate $6 to $7 cut in a benchmark 1,000 kilowatt-hour monthly bill, which now stands at $137.
Now there is a firm prediction, a promise even, that we can track. The reductions will be immediate, right? So, look for them on your next monthly bill? Or should we be honest that the bill, if signed as is, doesn’t go into effect until July 1. Will your bill immediately go down on July 2? September 1? The newspaper predicts it will be lower even though as the year progresses, Dominion begins to charge even more for the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, the upgrades at its four nuclear reactors, and puts the tax to pay for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative back onto your monthly bills. Oh, and the new legislation increases Dominion’s authorized profit margin, which customers will start to pay in the near future.
Pick a date in the future, maybe just before Election Day 2023, and we’ll see then what 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity costs a Dominion customer. The RTD is promising $131.
A deeper analysis of the final conference report substitute on Dominion’s proposed regulatory will likely appear later today. But that ridiculous claim that your bills will actually go down “immediately” needs to be highlighted and filed away for future reference. And once again the newspaper has to be dismissed as a serious, independent news outlet when it writes propaganda ledes to please one of its largest advertisers.
— Steve Haner
Rube Goldberg is the best illustration when our General Assembly does energy policy bills.
by Steve Haner
With adjournment less than a week away, the 2023 General Assembly is a mixed bag for electricity consumers, with the Assembly seeming to release control to regulators in some areas but continuing to assert its tight control in others.
Dominion Energy Virginia’s legislation to sweeten its authorized profit margin, which will not lower customer bills despite claims in its advertising blitz, passed the Senate but remains in trouble in the Virginia House of Delegates. A key House committee voted late last week to stick with a version of the bill that leaves the return on equity formula unchanged. Continue reading →