New IRP not a “good faith decarbonization plan,” says national business group Advanced Energy United
[editor's note: this press release originally stated this was Dominion's first IRP since the VCEA was signed into law. It is Dominion's first IRP since the law went into effect.]
RICHMOND, VA, May 2, 2023 – This week, Dominion Energy Virginia filed its first Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) since the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), Virginia’s landmark energy law, went into effect in July of 2020. Today, Advanced Energy United, the business association that supported passage of the VCEA, criticized Dominion’s new approach for meeting the law’s requirements.
“We have seen this play from Dominion before. Its latest resource plan is yet another example of this utility picking a forecast that suits its business interests,” said Kim Jemaine, director at Advanced Energy United (formerly AEE). “Dominion chooses a questionable energy load forecast as justification for cherry-picking preferred technologies, preserving existing fossil-fuel facilities, and calling for new investment in gas fired resources. In our view, Dominion has not developed a good faith decarbonization plan that fully aligns with the Virginia Clean Economy Act, Virginia’s landmark energy law.”
“The VCEA is crafted to preserve grid reliability and security by pairing proven technologies like solar, wind, and existing nuclear with energy efficiency efforts and energy storage,” continued Jemaine. “It doesn’t phase out natural gas generation until 2045, giving the Commonwealth decades to make the transition to 100% clean energy.”
Recent federal policies have made already affordable clean technologies even more cost-effective. Advanced Energy United is calling on Dominion to find ways to maximize the role of energy efficiency, demand response, smart rate design, rooftop solar, and more technologies to reign in the increasing demand for electricity that they foresee.
“There are so many reliable and low-cost technology solutions to meet growing electricity demand, but they are largely absent from this new plan,” added Jemaine. “Instead, the utility is planning to preserve - even expand - natural gas-fired generation as a benefit to its shareholders, at unnecessary cost to Virginia consumers. This is a risky bet, given volatile gas prices. As the utility’s own analysis shows, in a high gas price scenario, continued reliance on natural gas may be the most costly option. Furthermore, as more low-cost clean power comes online, natural gas facilities will become even less economic, exposing Virginia consumers to stranded asset risk."
When the utility does consider 100% clean in this plan, it leans heavily on new small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) – a technology that is not yet commercially viable.
“VCEA includes new zero-carbon resources, like small modular nuclear reactors, when and if they're shown to be viable and cost-effective,” said Jemaine. “In the meantime, solar, wind, energy efficiency, and storage are more than capable of meeting our energy and reliability needs. The utility’s plans should focus more on cost-effective technologies that are available today, and less on future tech that might serve their bottom line.”
Advanced Energy United looks forward to engaging more around this IRP to ensure that Dominion sticks to the commitments it made at the negotiating table when it agreed to the VCEA.
Click here to learn more about United's advocacy work in Virginia.