Dominion plans up to 3.6 GW gas, 4.7 GW solar in Virginia
- Dominion Energy has filed its integrated resource plan (IRP) with state regulators, laying out how it intends to supply customers with electricity over the next 15 years. While the utility is accelerating growth of its solar resources, it also wants to construct eight new gas-fired plants capable of generating 3.66 GW.
- The utility's plan includes a focus on carbon emissions regulation, which Dominion calls "virtually assured in the future." Virginia is considering joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the nine-member cap-and-trade system developed in the Northeast.
- Joining RGGI could lead to an increase of $2.23/month to $5.81/month in the average residential customer's typical electric bill by 2030, Dominion estimates.
Dominion's long-term plan includes building eight gas-fired power plants, but the utility is also putting Virginia on notice: regulating those emissions will have a price.
The company "believes carbon emissions regulation is virtually assured in the future, either through new federal initiatives or through measures adopted at the state level," Dominion said in a Tuesday statement.
The Department of Environmental Quality is considering a regulation to move Virginia into the RGGI cap-and-trade program, though there is opposition in the legislature. Dominion's statement noted potential problems with that plan, and developed an estimate of what joining RGGI could cost.
Absent other policy interventions, Dominion said the state's proposal to join RGGI "would encourage customers able to competitively shop to purchase higher-carbon intensive generation outside of the Commonwealth while also increasing the utility's need to purchase out-of-state power to meet its obligations to serve Virginia customers. While this would reduce carbon emissions in Virginia, the reductions would be more than offset by increased emissions elsewhere in the Eastern United States."
Dominion says its long-term outline lays out the company's plan to generate power to meet customer needs, while "complying with expected regulatory requirements in the next 15 years."
The company remains committed to developing a diverse power mix that "avoids over-reliance on a single fuel type or technology," Paul Koonce, CEO of Dominion Energy Power Generation Group, said in a statement.
Dominion says its projections for solar generation have grown by almost 50% since last year's forecast. The company's Virginia solar fleet "could expand by at least 4,720 megawatts of capacity in the next 15 years," according to the IRP — a nearly 50% increase over last year's 3,200 MW forecast.
The long-term plan also calls for new natural gas-fired generation, and continuing to operate the state's four nuclear units.
The plans call for at least eight new gas-fired plants by 2033, capable of producing up to 3,664 MW.
The utility's IRP planning "determines the best paths to provide affordable, reliable energy under various carbon regulation scenarios," Rayhan Daudani, a spokesman for Dominion Energy, told Utility Dive by email.
Given the price decreases of installed solar in recent years, Dominion's plans for expanding solar continue to accelerate, Daudani said. A major strategy also focuses on renewing nuclear licenses.
"The new combustion turbine natural gas power stations called for in our plans are smaller than the combined cycle plants traditionally in our fleet and offer a highly-efficient, quick deploying resource," Daudani said. The gas turbines are necessary, "particularly given the expansion in renewables expected in our planning."
All of the scenarios also include energy efficiency programs capable of reducing peak demand by 304 MW by 2033, and overall annual energy usage by 805 GWh.
Follow Robert Walton on Twitter