Dominion Energy planning stuck in the past

Unnecessary gas plants, pipelines benefit shareholders at customers’ expense

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline "is not a service any citizen or homeowner along its path. This is justs a landgrab for a privately owned utility."

Dominion’s annual release of its long-term planning document, known as its Integrated Resource Plan, demonstrates that, once again, Dominion only puts customers’ best interests ahead of shareholders when required by law.

Dominion acquiesced to new Virginia law requiring more renewable energy—a move that is good for the environment, will create local jobs, and reduce carbon emissions. Yet despite its admission that solar energy is the lowest cost energy, Dominion is marching forward with a plan to build unnecessary pipelines and gas plants, all based on a forecast of electricity needs that has been wrong for over a decade.

There is no question that Dominion puts shareholders first. Right now it is standing with one foot in the past to benefit its shareholders and one foot in the future because it knows renewable is our best cheapest energy option,” said SELC attorney Will Cleveland. “If we expect change from Dominion, they are going to have to be forced into it.”

New Virginia law requires utilities in the Commonwealth to add roughly 5,000 megawatts of renewable energy and, after ranking 50th of the 51 largest electric utilities in the country in energy efficiency, requires Dominion to add $870 million of energy efficiency programs over the next 10 years.

Dominion continually insists on using outdated modeling practices to predict future electricity demand, and it doubles down on this error by proposing to satisfy that demand in a non-economic fashion. This approach marginalizes lower-cost options like energy efficiency and solar in favor of expensive, company-owned, customer-financed natural gas infrastructure—an approach that will force unnecessary costs on customers while allowing Dominion to earn high rates of returns to the benefit of its shareholders. 

For at least a decade Dominion has predicted steady robust load growth, and has been wrong every year,” said Cleveland. “It’s time for Dominion to change its model and assumptions to reflect reality—there is less load growth than predicted, and what load is coming to the Commonwealth comes from companies demanding renewable energy options. New natural gas infrastructure won’t grow Virginia’s economy; it will only grow Dominion’s dividends.”

Dominion has also repeatedly painted a picture of load growth beyond the regional grid operator’s numbers in order to legitimize its plan to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

These misleading projections used as the justification for spending customer money on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will come back to haunt us,” said SELC Senior Attorney Greg Buppert. “If Virginia fails to force Dominion to plan around true projections, we can expect this modeling to lead to more unneeded projects that will cost Virginians money, in addition to their water, land, and air quality.”


Read Richmond Times-Dispatch coverage of the plan here

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