Dominion says new gas plants, pipeline bring billions to Virginia economy

Dominion (NYSE:D) reported on Nov. 17 that its capital expenditure projects in Virginia, especially the construction of combined-cycle natural gas plants and a proposed interstate pipeline, will bring the state billions of dollars in economic benefit.

Richmond-based Dominion released a study that indicates infrastructure investments by the company over the next six years will meet environmental goals, create jobs and inject $10.1bn into the state’s economy

The study was done for Dominion by Richmond-based Chmura Economics & Analytics. The report could buttress the company’s financial case for the capital projects and blunt criticism from certain environmental and ratepayer groups.

Within the past two years, Chmura has also done studies on the economic benefits of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and a natural gas power plant being developed in Maryland by Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC).

From 2015-2020, the construction program will support an average of more than 11,900 jobs per year in Virginia, with about 6,400 directly engaged in the construction work and another 5,500 employed in other sectors of the state’s economy, according to the report.

The study analyzed projects to be built by Dominion Virginia Power, the Dominion business unit providing electric service to more than 2.4 million retail customers in the state, and by Dominion Transmission, the Dominion subsidiary that builds and operates natural gas storage facilities and interstate transmission pipelines.

Among the projects included in the study, include two natural gas-fired power stations solar and off-shore wind electric generation facilities; multiple electric transmission lines; environmental projects; and the proposed Strategic Underground Program to improve reliability by converting many overhead electric distribution lines to underground installation.

Also included is the Virginia portion of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 564-mile project originating in West Virginia’s Harrison County then traversing parts of western, central and southern Virginia.

Dominion Transmission will build and operate the project for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, which was formed by four southeastern energy companies Dominion, Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK), Piedmont Natural Gas (NYSE:PNY) and AGL Resources (NYSE:GAS) parent of Virginia Natural Gas.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC filed an application for approval of the project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in September. About 280 miles of the proposed pipeline would be located in Virginia.

Chmura, a respected economics consulting firm based in Richmond, used a sophisticated computer modeling system to calculate the economic and job impacts from the construction projects.

In addition to the Brunswick and Greensville combined-cycle natural gas power plants, Dominion is also developing solar energy projects in the state. It is also doing early work on offshore wind and a potential Unit 3 at the North Anna nuclear plant.

The Brunswick gas plant is expected to start operation in the summer of 2016. Construction is scheduled to begin on Greensville in mid-2016.

Pending needed regulatory and environmental approvals, construction is expected to begin in the second half of 2016 with the pipeline in service during the fourth quarter of 2018.

Dominion Virginia Power is planning a variety of environmental improvements at its power stations to meet new federal regulations, including those for the storage of coal combustion residuals; control of effluents that could impact surface and groundwater; and regulation of station cooling water intakes.

Dominion is part of a consortium that will develop two 6-MW turbines 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach in what will be known as the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project (VOWTAP).

Dominion has also announced plans to develop a total of 400 MW of solar electricity in Virginia by 2020. Dominion also has a Solar Partnership Program for small-scale solar. The program is designed to study the benefits and impacts of solar distributed generation targeted electric distribution circuits.

Dominion is undertaking projects to improve both the physical and cyber-security of its transmission assets. Capital investment in the transmission system is expected to approach $3.8bn in Virginia during the 2015-2020 period.

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.