Two recent editorials, one in Charlottesville’s Daily Progress and one in Fredricksburg’s Free-Lance Star, urge the State Corporations Commission (SCC) to demand full and accurate information from Dominion before considering Dominion’s request for new projects and new profits – and potentially new rate increases from customers to pay for them. Dominion wants the SCC to raise its guaranteed return on equity [ROE] so it can attract investors. But SCC judges and staff noted that nearly all the projects could also generate higher bills for ratepayers. Plus Dominion has submitted varying plans at various times.
The Free-Lance Star put it this way: “If Dominion’s guaranteed return on equity is increased, that would mean more money for investors, but less money for refunds or grid investments that directly benefit the company’s 2.6 million captive customers—who incidentally just got stuck paying up to $5.7 billion to clean up decades’ worth of toxic coal ash. It’s up to the SCC, which will hold a public hearing on Sept. 10 in Richmond on the utility’s application, to decide whether that’s fair.”
At Dominion Energy’s integrated resource plan hearings on May 8, 2019, cloud computing and internet giants delivered a letter demanding the company shift away from its plan to meet their energy needs with fracked gas through the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and demanded the utility focus instead on renewable energy solutions.
The Clicking Clean Virginia report issued by Greenpeace in February documented Dominion’s reliance on growing electricity demand from Virginia’s “Data Center Alley” to justify further fossil fuel investments, including the construction of the $7B Atlantic Coast Pipeline. But some of the largest tech companies have stated unequivocally they do not want their demand to be met with more fossil fuel projects. In response to the letter, Greenpeace Senior IT Sector Analyst Gary Cook said, “These tech companies and their customers are demanding the utility focus instead on renewable energy solutions. This pipeline has been rejected by the public, the courts, and now the very customers Dominion claimed it was for.”
Read the letter from the tech companies here.
Additional press coverage here.
Writing in the Virginia Mercury on May 5, 2019, Ivy Main outlines the ways Dominion is currently trying to pull the wool over our eyes. She muses on “the series of full-page ads Dominion Energy has taken out in newspapers over the past few weeks bragging about the company’s investments in solar energy. The ads are misleading — I’ll get to that in a minute—but the more interesting question is what the company is up to that it hopes we’re too busy looking at solar panels to notice.”
A few of the things Main says Dominion wants to distract us from:
- Dominion Energy paid no federal income tax for 2018, in spite of earning over $3 billion in U.S. income.
- Most of that untaxed income comes from customers here in Virginia, but not all of it is earned (she explains why).
- After getting authority to spend all that customer money, one of Dominion’s first moves was to interpret “spending” as “keeping.”
- Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline could shape up to be a huge profit center for the company, but also a huge financial burden for utility customers.
- In March, Dominion boasted customer-funded spending numbers at least $3 billion higher than it gave its regulators at the State Corporation Commission just two weeks before.
- And so on.
She notes, “Yet at least some Dominion leaders seem to be aware that other people think the company should be ashamed of its greed, and that some of these people are voters who may eject its friendly legislators from office this fall. Their answer is to run an ad about solar panels to distract us and change the conversation. But the ad just starts its own conversation — and not in the intended way.” She enumerates the errors and faulty implications in the ads e.g. boasting about 2 million added solar panels (which, at an average of 300-watt panels “comes out to 600 MW, which is a pitifully small amount compared to Dominion’s fossil fuel investments”), and the fact that all of that solar is for data centers and other large customers rather than ordinary customers.
Read the full article here.
Show up – bear witness! Come to the Buckingham Planning COmmission meeting on Monday April 22, 2019 (Buckingham County Administrative Building, 13380 West James Anderson Hwy (Rt. 60), Buckingham). Ask the Supervisors to amend the Special Use Permit (SUP) for the compressor station’s emergency communication tower to require that the infrastructure be served by broadband and that a last mile provider of broadband be found for businesses and residents along the pipeline. This will enhance safety and economic self-sufficiency in Buckingham, and especially help those who are forced to accept the pipeline.
Broadband continues to be the best available technology and at the Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Energy and Infrastructure Conference in Roanoke on April 17-18 there was agreement that Virginia needs for every corner of the commonwealth to have good broadband service. Since this SUP is being reconsidered, and since on March 19, 2019 Governor Northam signed legislation (HB 2691; Code of Virginia section 56-585.1:8) that will allow Dominion to help make broadband available in underserved areas, the county should revisit this issue as part of reapproving the SUP.
Because the original SUP was issued for only 18 months, there is an opportunity to respond to new conditions – the change in state law concerning utility sale of broadband – since the pipeline has not yet been built. Citizens are asking that the Supervisors again approve the SUP for the usual 18 month term. Many things related to technology, cybersecurity and other issues are changing quickly, so the door should not be closed to asking ACP to include new technology or address new issues by making the SUP last more than 18 months.
From the Allegheney-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #226 for April 18, 2019
ABRA has asked the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) why it has proclaimed that its review of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) covered “every foot” of the project, when recently discovered evidence contradicts that. In an April 19 letter to DEQ Director David Paylor, ABRA Executive Director Lewis Freeman called attention to a recent controversy concerning a proposed 5-mile ACP access road in Bath County (see related Recorder newspaper articles in News You May have Missed, below). Freeman’s letter noted that DEQ staff had recently told ABRA that the agency “was not aware of the proposed road because it had not been submitted to your agency as part of the plans submitted by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (ACP, LLC). However, the road in question was part of the plans submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and approved as part of the certificate issued for the ACP.” Continuing, Freeman’s letter states:
DEQ informed the State Water Control Board during its consideration of approving a 401 certificate for the ACP that it had reviewed “every foot of land disturbance proposed by ACP related to pipeline construction” (see page 8 in DEQ’s 10/19/18 report to the Water Board). Why was this statement made to the Water Board when it was not true? Can you provide clarification?
The access road in question crosses an environmental easement held by the Virginia Outdoor Foundation (VOF) and was proposed by ACP, LLC and approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission without consultation with VOF. VOF wrote FERC on April 9 taking strong exception to the situation.
The following briefs have been filed (to date) in the suit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).
The Joint Opening Brief of Conservation Petitioners [including Friends of Nelson] and Landowner Petitioners, filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) on April 5, 2019.
Briefs filed by parties that are challenging part or all of FERC’s certificate for the pipeline:
Amici curiae, or “friends of the court,” briefs in support of of the suit”
And one brief filed by ACP itself, challenging one element of FERC’s certificate: Opening brief filed by Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC
(The addendum of statutes and regulations from several of these briefs was removed to make the file sizes more manageable.)
What happens next: According to the SELC, FERC’s response brief is due on June 19, ACP’s response brief is due on June 26, and SELC’s reply brief is due on July 10, along with the reply briefs of their fellow petitioners. Oral argument will likely be scheduled for sometime in the fall.