UPDATE: Sept. 19, 2019: Regulators issued an order on Sept. 18 to permit all customers to purchase 100% renewable energy from any licensed supplier "if the incumbent electric utility serving the exclusive territory does not offer an approved tariff" for 100% renewable energy.
Dominion will abide by the SCC’s decision. A spokesperson told Utility Dive the 100% renewable energy proposal from Dominion’s Virginia subsidiary is currently pending with the SCC. The utility believes its proposal is "the best option for all electric customers in Virginia because it keeps rates low for those who choose not to participate."
- The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) ordered Dominion Energy to resume processing enrollment requests of customers who wish to purchase from two competitive service providers (CSPs) for renewable energy, in a decision filed on Wednesday.
- Direct Energy Business and Calpine Energy Solutions had filed for a temporary injunctive relief on petitions from Dominion, which had terminated on July 15 and 16, respectively,
- The SCC will continue to evaluate Dominion's two petitions for Calpine and Direct Energy regarding whether their promise of 100% renewable energy service meets state regulations. Dominion and other parties involved waived the filing of post-hearing briefs, according to Ken Schrad, SCC director of the division of information resources.
The full capacity load of customers seeking to leave Dominion's service in favor of Calpine and Direct Energy is confidential, but it is evident interest has grown since the utility halted processing enrollments.
"Direct Energy has an additional 93 customers representing over 2,000 meters that are ready for submission and were on hold due to Dominion's conduct," Ron Cerniglia, the company's director of regulatory affairs, told Utility Dive. These customers include retail establishments, data centers, corporate campuses, malls and more. Before the the July petition from Dominion, the CSP had submitted enrollments for 16 customers with about 90 accounts or meters.
Calpine did not reply to requests for comment, but wholesale retailer Costco and supermarket retailer Kroger both filed to object to Dominion's petition of Calpine, alleging that the CSP's 100% renewable energy offering is viable and that customers were not benefiting from the petition.
Meanwhile, Dominion has its own proposal to provide 100% renewable energy service before the SCC. "We believe this is the best option for all electric customers in Virginia because it keeps rates low for those who choose not to participate," spokesperson Samantha Moore told Utility Dive via email.
Dominion has "the fourth-largest solar portfolio of any utility holding company in the United States," according to Moore. However, the renewable energy tariff counts other sources such as wind, hydro and biomass generation, provided that the energy is purchased within the PJM Interconnection region.
Direct Energy has transaction confirmations in effect for power purchase agreements with renewable developers within PJM to serve the load in Virginia, Cerniglia said.
Dominion had petitioned SCC to clarify the statute for 100% renewable energy offerings, to put in place a renewable energy capacity requirement. Otherwise, the CSPs would not ensure procurement enough renewable energy to serve peak loads as "there is no obligation to demonstrate meeting full load requirements 100% from renewable energy."
"We are awaiting [SCC's petition] decision but we think it's very clear ... that a monthly balancing standard is sufficient, and certainly the statute does not get into that level of detail," Cerniglia said.
Only business customers with a load greater than 5 MW of electricity can apply to leave Dominion's service, leaving the smaller energy customers "captive." Regulators earlier this year denied the exit applications from Walmart and Costco, citing concerns over impacts to other ratepayers from the exit of some of Dominion's largest customers.