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RealClearInvestigations: As Renewables Move to Overtake Gas, a Pipeline to Paralysis

Posted by Vince Bielski on May 28, 2020

RealClearInvestigations covered the expansion of renewables in Virginia and West Virginia in context of gas pipeline project, quoting VA AEEs Harry Godfrey. Read excerpts below and the entire RealClearInvestigations piece here. 

The embattled Atlantic Coast Pipeline begins its run in West Virginia. The steel tube built to ferry 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day weaves underground through mountain terrain toward its destination two states away in North Carolina. Then it stops, after only 30 miles but many millions of dollars into its journey. 

The most expensive natural gas pipeline project in America was halted two years ago after a federal appeals court yanked a permit that allowed it to cross two national forests, but the controversy rages on. The central issue is climate change – but in a sign of how much the debate has changed, this is not a battle between believers and deniers. Almost everyone, including CEOs, lawmakers and Wall Street analysts, agrees on the need to transition to renewable energy...

The bar is higher for Dominion in Virginia, thanks to a Democratic legislature and governor who signed the Clean Economy Act in April. The most far-researching climate law in the South requires that all of the power from Dominion’s utility comes from renewables by 2045. It plans to make wind and solar energy 47% of its energy mix in 15 years.

But there’s a loophole in the Act. Dominion’s utility can keep burning gas beyond 2045 if reliability of the power grid requires it. And that’s what Dominion proposes in its recent integrated resource plan: it adds two gas plants to a large fleet that will run through 2045, providing an estimated 16% of its energy mix. Dominion, like Duke, is depending on technologies to come of age and cut the remaining emissions...

Under the Act, Dominion will significantly expand offshore wind and solar farms as well as battery storage... 

Dominion’s energy-efficiency plan also falls short of the Act’s intent, says Harry Godfrey, executive director of Virginia Advanced Energy Economy who helped craft the law. Improved lighting, heating and cooling would significantly reduce demand for electricity and the justification to build new gas plants in Virginia. But Dominion lags far behind other utilities nationwide in reducing demand through efficiency, according to a recent ranking by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy...

Read the entire RealClearInvestigations piece here. 

Topics: AEE In The News