Dominion Energy Virginia is committing to having 3,000 megawatts of new solar and wind under development or in operation by the beginning of 2022. It is the first set of plans filed recently under the Grid Transformation & Security Act (GTSA). The landmark legislation, signed by Gov. Ralph Northam, became effective July 1 and provides a roadmap for Virginia’s energy future.
“Thanks to the Grid Transformation & Security Act, Dominion Energy plans to develop a system that meets the increasingly complex demands and expectations of our customers,” said Ed Baine, Senior Vice President – Power Delivery. “And we are doing it with more renewable energy.”
The law paves the way for expanded investments in renewable energy, smart grid technology, a stronger, more secure grid and energy efficiency programs, all while keeping rates affordable. It provides hundreds of millions of dollars in bill credits and rate reductions for customers and expands the EnergyShare program to help Virginia’s most vulnerable citizens.
The Grid Transformation & Security Act includes provisions for:
- $200 million in bill credits to customers, and $125 million in annual rate cuts due to tax relief
- Modernizing the energy grid to improve reliability, resiliency and the ability to integrate more renewable energy and emerging technology
- Significantly expanding the company’s renewable energy fleet in Virginia
- Future testing of wind turbines off the coast of Virginia Beach
In the regulatory filing, the company asked the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to approve the programs, investments and costs included in the first three years of the 10-year grid transformation program. The company will update the plan and request approval of additional programs and spending in later filings with the SCC.
Keeping Energy Affordable
Customers will continue to see affordable energy prices even as the company makes critical investments in grid transformation. Through the provisions of the new law, Dominion Energy customers will see significant savings, starting with the $133 million bill credit this month, another $67 million credit in January, and $125 million annually in rate cuts due to recent federal tax reform.
Additionally, customers who need assistance will benefit from the significant expansion of EnergyShare. The law directs Dominion Energy to commit at least $13 million in shareholder funds each year through 2028 for bill assistance and weatherization services for seniors, veterans, low-income customers and people with disabilities.
Expanding Virginia’s Renewable Resources
The Grid Transformation & Security Act set Virginia’s energy policy on a course for a massive expansion in new wind and solar energy — 3,000 megawatts of which Dominion Energy is committed to having in operation or under development by the beginning of 2022. The projects will be a combination of assets developed and procured by the company.
In a related filing with the SCC today, Dominion Energy will seek to specifically add 240 megawatts of solar energy in Virginia. The proposed projects will continue to grow the company’s solar fleet, which is already the sixth largest in the nation. Dominion Energy is also working this summer to gather input from stakeholders before announcing the next phase in its solar strategy later this year.
Later this summer, the company will seek SCC approval for its proposed Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project. The 12-megawatt facility would be the first of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic, located in a federal lease area about 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. The two-turbine test project is being developed through a partnership with Ørsted Energy of Denmark, a global leader in wind generation. It will provide valuable information that could lead to more extensive wind development.
Smart Grid Technology and Grid Security
Dominion Energy Virginia says customers can expect better service under the grid transformation initiative, which includes the installation of approximately 2.1 million smart meters in homes and businesses. If approved by the SCC, these smart meters, in conjunction with a new customer information platform, will give customers more information and tools to better manage their energy use and bills. The approximately $450 million investment in smart meters and the customer information platform during the first three years of the initiative will be funded without any rate increase by using the reinvestment model enabled by the GTSA.
Smart meters and other grid transformation investments will help integrate new technologies like private solar and electric vehicle charging stations into the grid. Investments in intelligent grid devices, smart meters, and automated control systems will enable a “self-healing” grid, which will speed the restoration process by quickly identifying and isolating outages.
New construction and material standards will improve grid resiliency and reduce outages caused by weather and other events. Additional measures will be taken to protect the grid against the growing threat of both physical and cyber-attacks. These measures include hardening substations serving critical facilities and the deployment of new intelligent devices and control systems which help energy companies detect and recover from events more quickly.
Other provisions of the GTSA reinforce efforts by Dominion Energy to place more vulnerable and outage-prone distribution lines underground. The latest expansion of the company’s Strategic Underground Program (SUP) is now under review by the SCC.
The GTSA directs Dominion Energy to propose at least $870 million in energy efficiency programs over the next decade, designed to help customers save energy and manage the demand on Virginia’s electric system. The new law designates that at least 5% of energy efficiency programs must benefit low income, elderly or disabled individuals, most likely through residential weatherization upgrades.
Dominion Energy will file its initial proposals for new energy efficiency projects with the SCC for approval later this year following input provided by stakeholders.
“The GTSA lays out a very clear path for Virginia to reach a clean energy future that includes greater reliability, more security and grid resiliency,” Baine said. “And it does this while ensuring prices remain reasonable and competitive. Virginia will make great strides in the coming years, because of the new law.”