Goes. AG: High costs, uncertain benefits of Dominion’s wind proposal | Government and politics

The Virginia attorney general’s office, in a new filing, says Dominion Energy’s proposal for a large offshore wind farm isn’t needed for utility capacity, costs two to three times more than solar, and that the company overestimated the economic benefits of the project.

Friday’s filing was filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission by the Attorney General’s Division of Consumer Counsel, which represents consumer interests before the commission. The commission is reviewing Dominion’s plan for a $9.8 billion wind farm with about 180 turbines off Virginia Beach.

The plan must be approved by the commission, which will hold hearings on the case from May 16; public comments are open until then.

The attorney general filed written testimony from Scott Norwood, an energy consultant in Austin, Texas, who previously testified before the commission on behalf of the Virginia attorney general.

People also read…

Dominion’s plan is the largest energy project ever undertaken in Virginia, and the wind farm would be the largest in the country and one of the largest in the world.

The General Assembly, through a 2020 state statute called the Virginia Clean Economy Act, directed the commission to approve the utility-owned wind farm at a cost to the customer of up to $9.8 billions of dollars.

The Attorney General’s testimony acknowledged that the law “establishes a presumption of prudence for costs.”

The language of the law takes risks for the Dominion project and its investors.

But because of high fixed costs and “significant risks posed to customers,” according to the testimony, the state’s largest electric utility should be required to file progress reports on the performance and costs of the project throughout construction and its first year of operation.

Norwood also recommended that the panel ask Dominion to commit to the dates when the project will be ready to generate electricity and immediately notify the panel of any delays or cost increases.

Dominion increased the estimated cost to its Virginia customers for the wind farm from $7.8 billion to $9.8 billion.

Company spokesman Jeremy Slayton said in a statement that “offshore wind is good for energy security as well as Virginia’s economy and environment. … The zero fuel costs of Virginia’s offshore wind power is more valuable than ever given today’s rising fuel costs.

“The jobs and economic development benefits are transformative for Hampton Roads, including diverse communities.”

The company has a test project operating with two wind turbines; construction of the major project is expected to be completed in 2026 and its estimated lifespan is 30 years.

The cost for a typical residential customer in the first year is an additional $1.45 on a monthly bill, but the attorney general’s testimony notes that Dominion’s numbers project it will reach over $20 by 2027.

But Slayton said the $20 figure assumes the company is building a second phase of the wind farm that is not currently in front of CSC.

Other participants have also filed testimony in the case.

The Sierra Club filed testimony from Mark Little, executive director of an economic development center based at the University of North Carolina, regarding Dominion’s economic plan for the wind farm.

He concluded that Dominion’s plan falls short of the diversity, equity and inclusion goals set out in state law and that the commission should order the company to file a new economic plan that expresses a clearer vision, identifies specific measures and explains how the objectives will be achieved.

Walmart submitted a letter saying that while it supports renewable energy, the company is concerned about the price of the wind farm and wants the commission to protect customers from potential cost overruns.

A representative of the Nansemond Indian Nation headquartered in Suffolk filed testimony saying the tribe wants to be consulted on the project as it affects ancestral lands.

“The potential for discovery and disturbance of Indigenous sites in any new development in this area is high,” the tribe’s testimony said.

And the Charlottesville-based organization Clean Virginia filed testimony saying Dominion has limited experience developing offshore wind and that if project costs end up exceeding the $9.8 billion estimate , Dominion, and not its customers, should then be in danger.

Slayton said Dominion is satisfied that none of the parties involved in the case oppose the SCC’s approval of the project.

[email protected]

(804) 649-6061

Twitter: @patrickmwilson