Dominion targets 3 GW of wind and solar, $870M efficiency spending in grid mod plan
- Dominion Energy unveiled a proposal to develop 3 GW of wind and solar, install more than 2 million smart meters and make almost $900 million in efficiency investments in the first phase.
- The proposal, filed Tuesday with the State Corporation Commission, was guided by the Grid Transformation & Security Act (GTSA), which Gov. Ralph Northam signed in March. GTSA took effect three weeks ago, aiming to dramatically reshape Virginia's electric grid.
- Virginia joins a host of other states to work on significantly overhauling their electric industries through modernization, a focus on renewables and grid coordination, and development of new utility business models.
Dominion is developing a 10-year grid transformation plan, but the filing this week requests approval for just the first three years of programs and investments that include offshore wind, grid security, advanced metering and efficiency.
Phase I of the proposal will run through 2021 and includes capital investment of $816.3 million, according to Dominion's application, and the proposed operations and maintenance expenses will be approximately $101.5 million.
The utility's $450 million investment in smart meters and a customer information platform during the first three years of the initiative "will be funded without any rate increase by using the reinvestment model enabled by the GTSA," the utility said in a statement.
The law also requires Dominion to propose at least $870 million in energy efficiency investments across the 10-year span. GTSA requires 5% of energy efficiency programs must benefit low income and other vulnerable populations, "most likely through residential weatherization upgrades."
Dominion said it will file its initial efficiency proposals with regulators later this year, after reviewing stakeholder input.
Under the plan, Dominion would promise to have the renewable capacity in operation or development by 2022. In a related application, the utility on Tuesday proposed development of 240 MW of solar energy, specifically in Virginia.
Dominion said it will work this summer to "gather input from stakeholders before announcing the next phase in its solar strategy later this year."
Customers will receive improved service as a result of the improvements and more control over their usage and bills, said Dominion. The meters and other grid investments will also help integrate new technologies including rooftop solar and electric vehicle charging, the utility said.
Dominion's plan calls for over 1.4 million smart meters to be installed during the first phase, from 2019-2021. A second phase, in 2022 and 2023, includes plans for 600,000 meters.
Transition to the new digital customer information platform will begin in the first phase and will make it easier for customers to schedule services, enroll in utility, compare rates, view consumption analysis and more.
"Additional measures will be taken to protect the grid against the growing threat of both physical and cyber-attacks," Dominion said. "These measures include hardening substations serving critical facilities and the deployment of new intelligent devices and control systems, which help energy companies detect and recover from events more quickly."
Dominion also said parts of GTSA reinforce the utilities efforts to place more vulnerable and outage-prone distribution lines underground, and a proposed expansion of the company's strategic underground program is now under consideration by regulators.
Many states have undertaken comprehensive reviews of their electric systems. New York's Reforming the Energy Vision is perhaps most well-known, and includes a significant focus on the development of new business models for utilities. California has a particular focus on the integration of distributed resources, while Massachusetts aims to lower its high electricity prices.
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