- Virginia regulators have allowed a manufacturer to aggregate electricity demand from six locations in order to exceed the state's 5 MW threshold for access to competitive supply options.
- Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power opposed the plan, but regulators concluded allowing Reynolds Group Holdings to shop for generation from non-utility companies would have minimal impacts on the utilities' systems.
- It is the second big energy decision in Virginia in as many months. Last week Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed legislation to overhaul and unfreeze Dominion's rates and to spur investment in renewables.
State regulators last month approved a customer aggregation application that could begin to change how some large companies purchase energy.
According to an analysis from GreeneHurlocker, a law firm representing energy suppliers, the State Corporation Commission is currently considering aggregation requests filed by more than 160 Walmart accounts. The firm is representing competitive suppliers who are supporting approval of Walmart's aggregation requests.
The firm says regulators' decision in the case was "the first time a group of customers sought to combine their demands in order to reach the 5 MW threshold." Reynolds Group, which produces metals and packaging, was allowed to aggregate just over 10 MW from three of its subsidiaries at six locations in Virginia.
The company's load represents just 0.06% of Dominion's system peak, and regulators note the utility is expecting to see peak demand rise by more than that amount each year for the next 15 years.
"Because this is the first petition filed under Code § 56-577 A 4, there is no impact from 'other previously approved petitions of like type with respect to such incumbent electric utility,' " the commission noted.
Virginia has been working to grow customer choice and renewable energy in its marketplace. Last week, Northam signed a bill to unfreeze the rates of Dominion and Appalachian Power. The state froze rates in 2015 to protect customers from potential rate hikes related to the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, which was never fully implemented.
The legislation authorized about $200 million in customer refunds, and renewable energy advocates say the bill will support $1 billion in efficiency investment and 5,000 MW of new wind and solar over the next 10 years.