Dominion touts progress on gas plants, LNG project

Dominion (NYSE:D) said Nov. 5 that development of a new natural gas plant in northwestern Virginia is 60% complete while final approval has been gained for a similar gas power plant in southern Virginia.

Dominion also said during its third quarter earnings call that the company’s nuclear fleet continues to perform well; the company will only commercially develop offshore wind if Virginia regulators endorse it; and a planned a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in Maryland continues to pick up government approvals.

Dominion announced unaudited reported earnings determined in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) for the three months ended Sept. 30 of $569m (98 cents per share), compared to $209m (36 cents per share) for 3Q12.

Dominion earnings were also affected by milder than normal weather, officials said.

Dominion said results for 2012 have been recast to reflect results for Brayton Point and Kincaid generating stations as discontinued operations. However, Dominion uses originally reported 2012 amounts prior to recast to calculate operating earnings growth targets as well as for comparison to 2012 and 2013 operating earnings and statistics.

Dominion Chairman, President and CEO Thomas Farrell II said the Richmond, Va.-based company reached several important milestones in the quarter.

“Construction of our Warren County Power Station reached a major milestone as the station is now about 60 percent complete and remains on track to be online by the fourth quarter of 2014,” Farrell said. “The 1,329-megawatt, combined-cycle power station will help Dominion meet the growing energy needs in Northern Virginia and throughout the state.”

“We also received approval from the Virginia SCC for the Brunswick County Power Station and have begun construction on the 1,358-megawatt combined-cycle power station with commercial service expected to begin in the summer of 2016,” the CEO added.

Dominion placed its Altavista unit, which was refueled from coal-to-biomass, into service in July. Other similar conversion projects at the Hopewell and Southampton projects are scheduled for completion by year’s end, Farrell said.

Farrell also noted that the state has approved plans by the Virginia Electric Power subsidiary to convert the Bremo plant from coal to natural gas. Bremo is expected to start natural gas operation next summer, he added.

Dominion’s nuclear fleet had a capacity factor of 93.8% in the quarter. Meanwhile both regulated utility and merchant generation units enjoyed very low “forced outage” rates, the CEO said.

Dominion offshore plans hinge on state approval

Dominion was also recently awarded an Interior Department lease to develop 113,000 acres of the coast of Virginia for commercial wind energy.

Dominion will pursue offshore wind if the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) decides that it is “in the public interest.” Dominion will not pursue offshore energy “on a merchant basis,” Farrell said.

Dominion is moving ahead with a pilot offshore wind project that is supported by the Department of Energy (DOE), Farrell said.

On the renewable energy front, the company said its 14-MW Bridgeport fuel cell project in Connecticut was 79% complete and expected in-service by year end.

“We welcomed approval from the U.S. Department of Energy for natural gas exports to non-Free Trade Agreement countries from our Dominion Cove Point LNG facility,” Farrell said. “Pending receipt of regulatory approval and permits, construction is scheduled to begin in 2014, with an in-service date of 2017. We also created Dominion Gas Holdings, a first tier subsidiary holding company for most of our regulated natural gas businesses, and announced our intention to form a Master Limited Partnership in 2014.”

Dominion has also said that the LNG complex will include an on-site natural gas electric generating unit.

During the third quarter Dominion placed $108m of transmission assets into service, which makes $546m year-to-date. Dominion’s growth plan anticipates invest of about $500m per year in transmission projects.

Dominion is also actively pursuing PJM competitive electric transmission opportunities. For example, Dominion has submitted three proposals ranging from $114m to $180m for the “Artificial Island” project in New Jersey.

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.