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Dominion, Virginia's largest electric utility, updates energy plan, with gas

The 15-year road map submitted Friday to the State Corporation Commission in Richmond, Va., includes the least-cost gas plan and what Dominion calls a "diversity plan" that includes large-scale wind development in the western part of the state and solar generation of up to 200 megawatts of power. ...The plan providing for large-scale renewable development reflects the likelihood of more stringent U.S. carbon emission controls.

Dominion Virginia Power's updated long-range energy plan offers natural gas generation as its base but also includes emissions-free options in anticipation of U.S. regulations to reduce greenhouse gases.

The 15-year road map submitted Friday to the State Corporation Commission in Richmond, Va., includes the least-cost gas plan and what Dominion calls a "diversity plan" that includes large-scale wind development in the western part of the state and solar generation of up to 200 megawatts of power.

The utility, Virginia's largest with more than 2 million customers, already plans to retire 900 megawatts of coal-fired energy in 2015.

Among the company's newest facilities is the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center near St. Paul, Va. The 600-megawatt station, which started operations in July 2012, produces enough electricity to power about 150,000 homes and is considered one of the cleanest coal-fired power stations in the country.

Dominion also leaves the door open to a third nuclear reactor at North Anna power station, but has not committed to building it.

The two-plan approach is a departure from past plans and reflects uncertainty about future environmental regulations.

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Dominion Virginia Power's updated long-range energy plan offers natural gas generation as its base but also includes emissions-free options in anticipation of U.S. regulations to reduce greenhouse gases.

The 15-year road map submitted Friday to the State Corporation Commission in Richmond, Va., includes the least-cost gas plan and what Dominion calls a "diversity plan" that includes large-scale wind development in the western part of the state and solar generation of up to 200 megawatts of power.

The utility, Virginia's largest with more than 2 million customers, already plans to retire 900 megawatts of coal-fired energy in 2015.

Among the company's newest facilities is the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center near St. Paul, Va. The 600-megawatt station, which started operations in July 2012, produces enough electricity to power about 150,000 homes and is considered one of the cleanest coal-fired power stations in the country.

Dominion also leaves the door open to a third nuclear reactor at North Anna power station, but has not committed to building it.

The two-plan approach is a departure from past plans and reflects uncertainty about future environmental regulations.

"We do recommend the least-cost plan, which is the all-gas plan, but are also recommending at the same time we move forward with reasonable development of some other select alternatives to just gas - North Anna 3, onshore wind and solar," said Tom Wohlfarth, Dominion's senior vice president for regulatory affairs. "It's sort of a hybrid."

The plan providing for large-scale renewable development reflects the likelihood of more stringent U.S. carbon emission controls.

"It's difficult for us to predict when that's going to happen and two what degree that is going to happen," Wohlfarth said. "That's where the fuel diversity plan comes in."

The onshore wind proposal would generate 247 megawatts of power from windmills in western Virginia, while utility-scale solar power would be sited at locations Dominion is not prepared to publicly disclose.

The power needs of approximately 250 households are met by 1 megawatt of power.

Dominion also plans to bid next week on the leasing of a vast expanse of ocean about 25 miles from Virginia Beach that has been set aside for the development of wind power. The plan includes a demonstration project producing 12 megawatts but not the full development of the leasing area, which has the potential to generate 1,600 megawatts of power.

Wohlfarth said Dominion did not include the full generating potential of offshore winds because of continuing efforts to bring costs down.

While the U.S. is progressing on the development of that energy source, it still does not have an operating offshore wind farm. Costs are high, in part, because the U.S. does not have a manufacturing base and the investment required to build towering turbines in a hostile sea environment.

The Department of Energy estimates that offshore wind coming on line in 2018 would cost $22.40 a megawatt hour, about twice the cost of nuclear and many times the cost of gas.

"At this point in time we're still working to try to get the costs down to make it more economic," Wohlfarth said.

Successful bidders on offshore leases have federal benchmarks to meet to ensure the resource is developed.

Environmental groups have criticized Dominion for not investing more in renewables, and they repeated that criticism Friday.

"Unfortunately, Dominion's plan does not begin to capture the full cost-effective potential of these resources," said Angela Navarro, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.


Source: http://www.tricities.com/ne...

SEP 2 2013
http://www.windaction.org/posts/38427-dominion-virginia-s-largest-electric-utility-updates-energy-plan-with-gas
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