Today the Virginia State Corporation Commission issued an order rejecting Dominion Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan, which lays out the utility’s plans for meeting energy needs for years to come in Virginia. This is the first time the Virginia SCC has ever outright rejected a plan from the energy company. Also today, Dominion in contending with a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals order to stay a key permit of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has now temporarily shut down construction on the entire project.
Today the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed Fish and Wildlife Service approvals for the ACP, which must be in place before Dominion can harm threatened and endangered species. The Court threw out the original permit in May 2018.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service scrambled to reissue this permit and its haste is evident in its analysis,” said Attorney Patrick Hunter of the Southern Environmental Law Center. “This is yet another instance of government agencies rushing out ill-considered permits for this project.”
The ACP project relies heavily on claims for need in Dominion’s IRP, now rejected by the Virginia SCC. The SCC’s recognition that Dominion load forecasts aren’t reliable puts a significant hole in the company’s arguments for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
“Since at least 2015, Dominion has told federal regulators that the pipeline is needed because the demand for power is growing. But now we know that the company has been getting its predictions wrong for years,” said SELC attorney Will Cleveland. “If Virginia doesn’t need new gas-fired power plants, we also don’t need the ACP to run them. The SCC decision also puts a fine point on the risk that the ACP poses for utility customers. Dominion plans to charge its customers for the cost of the pipeline—including the 15% profit that goes to the company’s shareholders—on their power bills. "It’s time that decision makers recognize the ACP for what it is: an abuse of Dominion’s monopoly power that will hurt the people and environment of Virginia,” said SELC senior attorney Greg Buppert. ”
SELC is currently challenging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s certification of the Atlantic Coast Permit in court.