Dominion (NYSE:D) brought one major natural gas power plant online in Virginia during the past quarter, started building another, while continuing to make headway on solar energy and natural gas infrastructure, company officials said Aug. 3.
“Strong operational and safety performance continued in the second quarter. In addition, several milestones were reached in our growth projects,” said Chairman, President and CEO Thomas F. Farrell II during a quarterly earnings call with financial analysts.
“The 1,385-megawatt Brunswick County Power Station commenced commercial operations in April, ahead of schedule and under budget. We also began construction on the 1,588-megawatt Greensville County combined cycle power station,” Farrell said.
“We are looking forward to getting this state-of-the-art power station operating and providing energy to more than 400,000 customers,” Farrell said.
Here’s a rundown of some of Dominion’s key infrastructure developments during the past quarter:
- The Brunswick natural gas plant began commercial operations in April and was completed ahead of schedule and under budget. Construction had begun in August 2013.
- The 1,588-MW plant in Greensville County has an estimated cost of $1.3bn. It was issued its final air permit in June and the full notice to proceed with construction was issued to Fluor. Greensville will be the largest and most efficient gas plant in Virginia, Farrell said. Greensville should be online in summer of 2018.
- Large solar projects in Utah should go online this quarter. Dominion has a 50% ownership in the 320-MW Four Brothers and the 210-MW Three Cedars projects.
- Construction is underway of an 80-MW solar facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. It will serve an Amazon data center. More solar projects have been approved by Virginia.
- The 20-MW Remington solar project awaits approval from the state.
- Dominion has signed a lease and filed for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) 18-MW Oceana Naval Air Base solar project.
- Cove Point Liquefaction plant in Maryland has its engineering 99% complete. There are currently 1,800 workers on-site. Overall, the project is 67% complete.
- Dominion expects construction to start on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Supply Header in mid-2017. Surveying and pipeline engineering should be finished this year. The projected in-service date for the project is late 2018.
CEO talks solar, nuclear, financial issues
Nuclear workers completed two regularly-scheduled refueling and maintenance outages in less than 40 days during the past quarter, Farrell said.
A refueling outage was completed at the Virginia Electric Power Co. (VEPCO) North Anna 2 facility in Virginia in 35 days and the non-utility Millstone 3 nuclear facility in Connecticut in 34 days during the past quarter.
On Millstone there are state actions in the Northeast that could affect nuclear economics, Dominion officials said.
The Connecticut legislature has advanced clean energy policy that is expected to be taken up again in 2017. If approved, Connecticut evidently would allow carbon-free generation from nuclear plants to be treated more like renewable resources, Farrell said.
Farrell said that Dominion has no interest in selling its Millstone nuclear station. Millstone produces about half of Connecticut’s power and the state has “zero chance” of meeting its carbon reduction goals without it, Farrell said.
“There has been a tremendous uptick in interest from our customers in Virginia, and elsewhere,” for Dominion to do solar projects, Farrell said. “I’ll just say there is a lot of solar opportunity for us,” Farrell said.
Solar is also expected to benefit from Virginia’s plan to comply with the EPA Clean Power Plan
Virginia power demand growth expected to be roughly 1%. During the first half of 2016, “it was slightly less than that,” said Dominion Executive Vice President and CFO Mark McGettrick said. “We would like to see stronger commercial growth outside of data centers,” McGettrick said.
Mild weather, lower operating expenses and major storm restoration were issues that affected earnings for the Richmond, Virginia-based utility holding company during the period.
Dominion announced unaudited reported earnings determined in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (reported earnings) for the three months ended June 30, 2016, of $452m (73 cents per share) compared with earnings of $413m (70 cents per share) for the same period in 2015.