Dominion defends hefty investment on potential Virginia nuclear unit
- Dominion officials want to continue exploring proposals for a third nuclear reactor at the utility's North Anna plant in Virginia despite potentially massive costs, concerns over the rate impacts and cheaper renewable or natural gas alternatives, according to the Associated Press.
- In documents filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission, Dominion said its pursuit of an operating certificate for the new reactor would be costly, but "very valuable to us at some point in the future."
- The utility is unsure if it will build the plant, but is spending upwards of $600 million to obtain approval from the federal government. Long-term costs could exceed $19 billion, with the project possibly taking until 2029 to come online.
Dominion wants to keep the nuclear option on the table, but so far isn't committing to building a third unit at North Anna.
The AP reports on filings the company made with state regulators last week. “As we are transiting into a low carbon future, North Anna will be an on option that is very valuable to us at some point in the future,” Bob Thomas, director of energy market analysis for Dominion, told the wire service.
The catch is that Dominion is not sure it wants to build the reactor, but could spend up to $2 billion on the planning stage before making a final investment decision. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring estimated last year that the plant could cost more than $19 billion to construct and would raise electric bills 25%.
The idea has been controversial since it was floated. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported last year that Dominion's 15-year plan showed nuclear to be more expensive than new gas or renewable infrastructure.
Virginia Citizens Consumer Council President Irene Leech called the plan "the biggest single threat posed today against the pocketbooks of Virginia consumers...The ever-escalating cost of this project and the fact that it is at least twice as expensive as other alternatives, including energy efficiency and renewables, makes this a situation that cries out for responsible state officials to speak up now and call a halt to this monumental waste."
Dominion Virginia Power last year informed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of its intent to file a second license renewal application for the Surry Power Station. An application could be submitted in 2019; the letter of intent was necessary so the NRC can plan its staffing needs to support the license renewal effort, the company explained.
Surry Power Station provides 1,676 net MW. Unit 1 began commercial service in 1972 and Unit 2 began in 1973.
- AP via The Washington Times Dominion makes case for moving forward on nuclear
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