Dominion expects bills to rise to pay for renewable mandates


RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Customers of Dominion Energy Virginia can expect their bills to increase by an average of about 3% annually over the next 10 years as the company changes its generation mix to comply with new renewable energy mandates, Dominion recently told regulators and lawmakers.

Virginia’s largest utility included that finding in the integrated resource plan it filed Friday. The filing is a long-range planning document that outlines several options for meeting customer needs in the coming decades.

This year’s plan marks a significant shift from the company’s last original one, submitted in 2018, which envisioned the construction of at least eight new natural gas-fired power plants. Since that time, parent company Dominion Energy has committed to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and the state legislature passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act, a sweeping overhaul that includes a number of renewable energy mandates.

You get all of the ratepayer expense and none of the climate benefits,” said Will Cleveland

The IRP — which is not an official request to build any project or change rates — calls for a projected expansion of offshore wind, solar and energy storage development amounting to approximately 24,000 new megawatts of renewable energy and storage capacity over the next 15 years, according to a news release.

Still, environmental advocates said the company’s preferred plan laid out in the plan relies too heavily on natural gas at a time when climate change makes it imperative to move more quickly toward all-renewable generation.

“What they consider to be the best option is not a credible response to climate change and is not a credible attempt to implement the Clean Economy Act. You get all of the ratepayer expense and none of the climate benefits,” said Will Cleveland, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Under what Dominion described in a letter to lawmakers as the most feasible of four proposed plans, it would preserve 9,700 megawatts of natural gas generation through 2045 as it retires oil and coal units and then seek to continue using some gas-fired generation even beyond then.

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