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E&E News: Dominion's Plan to Quadruple Renewables Draws Fire

Posted by Arianna Skibell on May 5, 2020

E&E News covered Dominion Energy's plans to expand renewable energy to meet 2045 clean energy goals quoting Virginia AEE's Harry Godfrey. Read excerpts below and the entire E&E News piece here (sub. req.). More about Virginia Clean Economy Act here.

Dominion Energy Inc. has announced plans to quadruple renewable energy development in Virginia to comply with the state's landmark clean energy law, but critics warn the move might not be enough to achieve net-zero emissions by a 2045 deadline. The company's Dominion Energy Virginia subsidiary is aiming to add a combined 23.7 gigawatts of solar, wind and battery storage to its portfolio by the end of 2035, according to its 2020 integrated resource plan — roughly four times greater than previous renewable energy targets. 

The total would comprise 5.1 GW of offshore wind, 15.9 GW of solar and 2.7 GW of energy storage, Dominion said in the sweeping energy blueprint, filed with the State Corporation Commission on Friday. To help meet these goals, Dominion has separately issued a request for bids of up to 1,000 megawatts of solar and onshore wind generation along with 250 MW of energy storage proposals.

Dominion in recent months has ramped up its climate commitments. In February, its Richmond, Va.-based parent company announced a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, including slashing both carbon dioxide and methane emissions from power and gas infrastructure across the 18 states where it operates. In its 2020 IRP, Dominion lays out four possible paths for Virginia's energy future. Plan A is used as a reference point. Plans B, C and D all propose deep carbon emissions reductions. Plan D is the most aggressive and, according to the company's analysis, the most expensive. Plan B — Dominion's recommended proposal — would keep customer costs lower, but the company would continue to emit millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere..

Harry Godfrey, who leads Virginia Advanced Energy Economy, said that in general, the IRP represents progress. "We do see significant commitments to the deployment of wind, solar and battery storage," he said. "All of those are positive and a step in the right direction. Does it go as far as it ought to? No." Godfrey said he felt "baffled" by Dominion's inability to meet the 2045 zero-carbon target. During negotiations over the Clean Economy Act, during which a broad coalition, including Godfrey, discussed the law's goals, he said, Dominion at no point objected. "They were fine with these standards, and there was no lack of clarity with what we were talking about," he said. "It's a disappointment and a surprise."

Godfrey also said the high costs associated with plans C and D could come down dramatically if Dominion implemented demand-side savings. "Their analysis seems to leave a lot of potential cost savings to consumers on the table," he said. Given that Virginia plans to enter the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the country is moving in a direction where emitting is increasingly expensive, there could also be unidentified costs associated with the emissions from plan B, he added. Cleveland said SELC has already filed an intervention with state energy regulators on behalf of the group Appalachian Voices. Dominion is expected to file rebuttal testimony in September, and a hearing before the Virginia SCC is currently scheduled for October...

Read the entire E&E News piece here (sub. req.). More about Virginia Clean Economy Act here.

Topics: AEE In The News