State rejects Dominion’s flawed energy plan

Today, the Virginia State Corporation Commission rejected Dominion Virginia Energy’s 2018 integrated resource plan, citing “considerable doubt regarding the accuracy and reasonableness” of Dominion’s electricity demand forecast and flaws in its assumptions about new fossil fuel generation. The Commission’s decision cites testimony submitted by lawyers from Appalachian Mountain Advocates, on behalf of Sierra Club, challenging the accuracy of Dominion’s demand forecast.

Electric utilities like Dominion regularly file integrated resource plans (or IRPs), which include a forecast of future energy needs and a plan to meet those needs. Showing increased energy needs in an IRP is often necessary for justifying new energy projects, like new power plants or pipelines. The Commission is responsible for reviewing those plans to ensure they are reasonable and serve the public interest. Its decision today marks the first time it has ever outright rejected an IRP for failing to meet that standard.

The Commission’s decision cites testimony submitted by lawyers from Appalachian Mountain Advocates on behalf of Sierra Club, challenging the accuracy of Dominion’s demand forecast. University of Virginia Professor Dr. William Shobe testified that the central flaw in Dominion’s forecast was its failure to properly account for recent gains in energy efficiency. This flaw result in lower demand even in periods of economic growth. In light of those flaws, Sierra Club asked the Commission to reject Dominion’s forecast in favor of one that emphasized more recent data on energy use.

The Commission ruled that Dominion’s internal forecast was inadequate and ordered that Dominion revise its plans to reflect the lower forecast produced by independent grid operator PJM. That independent forecast places a greater emphasis on recent data, consistent with Shobe’s recommendation.

Appalmad attorneys also argued that Dominion’s modeling improperly ignored the costs it would incur as a result of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — a project co-owned by Dominion’s parent company. The Commission agreed, ordering Dominion to include those costs in its revised analysis.

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