Dominion updates new plant construction in Virginia

Dominion Resources (NYSE:D) said April 25 that turbines and generators have been installed at its 1,300-MW Warren County combined-cycle natural gas plant under construction near Front Royal, Va.

That project is expected to come online in late 2014, Richmond-based Dominion said in its quarterly earnings call.

Meanwhile, the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) began hearings on Dominion’s application for the Brunswick County combined-cycle gas plant. Dominion plans to have Brunswick County in service in mid-2016.

The Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA), which represents merchant generators, has questioned the need for Dominion to build the Brunswick County plant now. EPSA claims Dominion could address its current load needs by buying power through the PJM market.

In addition, Dominion said testing will begin later this month on a three coal-to-biomass conversion projects that are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. The company has been planning biomass projects at the Hopewell, Altavista and Southampton power plants.

Dominion’s solar purchase program was approved by the Virginia SCC on March 22.

On operational issues, Dominion said it was seeking to curb its routine spending in reaction to higher-than-expected storm costs in the recent quarter. This includes less hiring, the company said.

CEO Thomas F. Farrell II  said all seven of Dominion’s nuclear units operated every day of the first quarter. A regularly-scheduled refueling outage at Millstone Unit 3 in Connecticut began earlier in April.

While Dominion has been downsizing its merchant business – selling off merchant fossil plants and closing the Kewaunee nuclear plant in Wisconsin next month – Farrell said Dominion will still have a strong non-utility power presence in the Northeast – including Millstone.

Dominion is also placing more emphasis on the natural gas section of its company.

Dominion recently marked several milestones with the Cove Point LNG liquefaction project in Maryland. With the signing of 20-year terminal service agreements with two companies, the capacity of the project is fully subscribed, Farrell said. Dominion has also submitted its LNG application to FERC. “Subject to receipt of regulatory approvals, we expect to begin construction in 2014, with an in-service date in 2017,” Farrell said.

Dominion announced unaudited reported earnings determined in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) for the three months ended March 31, 2013, of $495m ($0.86 per share), compared to $494m ($0.86 per share) for the same period in 2012.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.