The Virginia State Corporation Commission, in a Nov. 10 order, said that it will hold a virtual public evidentiary hearing on Feb. 17, 2021 — via Microsoft Teams — regarding Virginia Electric and Power’s (Dominion) 2020 renewable energy portfolio standards (RPS) proceeding.
As noted in the order, the Virginia General Assembly, during its 2020 Session, enacted Chapters 1193 (HB 1526) and 1194 (SB 851) of the 2020 Virginia Acts of Assembly, with those duplicate Acts of Assembly, known as the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), becoming effective on July 1. The VCEA, inter alia, establishes a mandatory RPS for Dominion.
The commission added that Subdivision D 4 of Code § 56-585.5 requires Dominion to submit annually to the commission plans and petitions for approval of new solar and onshore wind generation capacity (RPS filing). The commission must determine whether the RPS filing is reasonable and prudent, given due consideration to certain factors, including the promotion of new renewable generation and energy storage resources within Virginia, and associated economic development.
The commission added that Dominion on Oct. 30 submitted to the commission its 2020 RPS filing, requesting that the commission:
- Approve the company’s annual plan for the development of new solar, onshore wind, and energy storage resources in connection with the new RPS program
- Grant certificates of public convenience and necessity (CPCNs) and approval to build and operate three solar generating facilities totaling about 82 MW (CE-1 Solar Projects). The CE-1 Solar Projects include the approximately 20-MW (nominal alternating current (AC)) Grassfield Solar Project located in the City of Chesapeake. According to the company, the total estimated costs for the CE-1 Solar Projects are about $168.2m, excluding financing costs, or about $2,051 per kW at the total 82 MW (nominal AC) rating. The company states that the Grassfield project, for instance, is expected to be in service by December 2021
- Approve a rate adjustment clause (RAC) to recover the costs of the CE-1 Solar Projects and related distribution and transmission interconnection facilities, designated Rider CE
- Make a prudence determination for the company to enter into six power purchase agreements (PPAs) for the energy, capacity, ancillary services, and environmental attributes of about 416 MW of solar generating facilities owned by third parties
The commission noted that including facilities that are in operation, under construction, or proposed for approval, the 2020 RPS filling shows that Dominion has a total of 1,391 MW of solar and onshore wind construction and purchases as of June 30. For energy storage, the 2020 RPS filing shows the company has 16 MW of energy storage in operation, under construction, or in pre-construction.
The commission also said that the company calculated the projected incremental monthly bill impact associated with the RPS Development Plan and the RPS program over the next 15 years for residential, small general service, and large general service customers. The company projects, for instance, that the monthly bill of a residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month will increase by about $39.02 by 2035 to reflect the incremental impact of the costs of the RPS Development Plan and the RPS program.
The commission also noted that for purposes of calculating the revenue requirement in the case, Dominion utilized a rate of return on common equity (ROE) of 9.2%, which has been approved in a separate commission proceeding. According to the company, implementation of its proposed Rider CE on June 1, 2021, would increase the bill of a residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month by about 19 cents.
Noting that the proposed Rider CE, if approved, would result in an increase to customer bills, the commission said that it realizes that the current COVID-19 pandemic has caused devastating economic effects that impact all utility customers. The commission said that while it is sensitive to the effects of rate increases, it will follow the laws applicable to the case, as well as the findings of fact supported by evidence in the record.
Among other things, the commission said that any person or entity wishing to participate as a respondent in the proceeding may do so by filing a notice of participation by Dec. 18.