Renewables, natural gas to help meet Dominion's future demand

Dominion Virginia Power, a unit of Dominion Resources (NYSE: D), plans to use biomass-, natural gas- and coal-fired units converted to natural gas to meet expected growing demand over the next 15 years.

In an update to its Integrated Resource Plan filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), Dominion said it expects total electricity demand to increase by nearly 30 percent by 2026, even after conservation measures are implemented. Along with new generation, retrofitting and repowering existing units and conservation initiatives, the update includes plans to erect new transmission lines and upgrade others.

Because of upcoming changes in federal environmental regulations, including those currently in draft form, Dominion also incorporated in the plan the following likely actions:

  • The 760 MW coal-fired Chesapeake Energy Center in Chesapeake, Va., would likely close by 2016. Two of the four units are expected to be shut down by 2015 and the remaining two units likely would be shut down a year later.
  • One coal-fired unit at the 1,150 MW Yorktown Power Station in Yorktown, Va., would likely close by 2015. A second coal-fired unit would likely be converted to natural gas.
  • New air emissions controls may need to be installed on Yorktown Unit 3 and Possum Point Unit 5 in Northern Virginia, two oil-burning units that provide power primarily during peak demand times, depending on the final versions of federal regulations.

The Integrated Resource Plan is based on current assumptions regarding load growth, commodity price projections, conservation programs and other regulatory and market developments that are expected to occur. Dominion said the plan is not a request to state regulators to build each project. Those individual decisions would be made at a later date with appropriate applications brought to the commission.

Among the projects included in environmental-related expenditures would be a new 1,300 MW natural gas-fired, combined cycle power station to be built at a location to be selected. If approved by regulators, the new station would be in service by 2016. Improvements in the transmission grid are planned to maintain reliability in the Hampton Roads area following expected actions at Chesapeake and Yorktown stations.

Other generation facilities in the preferred Plan include another 1,300 MW natural gas-fired power station to be put in service by 2019; a third nuclear unit at the 1,806 MW North Anna Power Station in Mineral, Va., to be in service in 2022; and 12 smaller natural gas-fired combustion turbine units likely to enter service between 2020 and 2026.  These are in addition to projects now under construction or development, including the 585 MW Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center in Wise County, Va., the repowering of the two coal-fired units at Bremo Power Station in Fluvanna County to natural gas and the approximately 1,300 MW natural gas-fired Warren County Power Station near Front Royal, Va., the application for which is pending before the SCC.

Dominion also said it remains committed to meeting the Virginia renewable energy goal of 15 percent of base year sales by 2025. To meet those goals, Dominion is proposing these additions:

  • A Solar Distributed Generation Program in which the company leases large commercial rooftops to install solar panels and add this form of renewable energy to its generation mix. The Virginia General Assembly passed enabling legislation in 2011.
  • Permission to convert three coal stations to use biomass as fuel.
  • The new Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center, expected to come online during the summer of 2012, will be able to burn biomass for up to 20 percent of its fuel.
  • The company is pursuing plans for a 4 MW solar facility in Halifax, Va.

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