Why Do We Need It?

In December 2018, Virginia’s State Corporation Commission rejected Dominion Energy Virginia’s proposed Integrated Resource Plan, finding that Dominion’s forecasts “have been consistently overstated, particularly in years since 2012, with high growth expectations despite generally flat actual results each year.” S&P Global, in their December 4, 2019 article, Overpowered: In Virginia, Dominion faces challenges to its reign, goes on to say that, “electricity demand in Virginia grew less than 1% from the Great Recession of 2007-2008 through 2017, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and is projected to remain essentially flat for at least the next decade. In an era of little to no demand growth, when it is already removing plants from service long before their planned retirement dates, Dominion continues to add thousands of megawatts of new gas-fired capacity. And since it is a regulated monopoly, the company continues to pass the costs of those plants along to its customers.”

The S&P Global also notes, “An examination of SCC records, Dominion’s past integrated resource plans, campaign finance documents and independent reports, along with interviews with utility analysts and environmental advocates and statements from Dominion officials, shows that the company has consistently over-forecast electricity demand to justify building new capacity, primarily natural gas plants with dubious economics that will ultimately be paid for by ratepayers.”

A day after publication of the S&P article, it is interesting to read in Utility Dive’s article, Dominion suspends plan to add 1.5 GW of peaking capacity as Virginia faces gas glut, that “Dominion Energy on Wednesday announced it suspended a request for proposals (RFP) that targeted up to 1,500 MW of dispatchable peak capacity in its Virginia territory, which observers said would have likely resulted in natural gas additions. Announced in November, the utility said the RFP aimed to replace retiring generation and provide system balancing needs as more renewables are added onto the grid. Dominion said it may reissue the RFP in the future, if it determines the capacity is needed. The utility’s announcement follows reporting from S&P Global that the company has been over-forecasting its demand for years in order to justify spending on new natural gas facilities.”

So if electricity demand is over-forecast, Virginia faces a power glut, and Dominion is pulling back from building additional gas-fired power generation plants, why is it we need the Atlantic Coast Pipeline?