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Dominion plans to build nearly 1,000-MW gas-fired peaker in Virginia

Dominion Energy Virginia is planning to build a nearly 1,000-MW natural gas peaking plant in Chesterfield County, Va.

The Dominion Energy Inc. subsidiary on the company's website said it is "proposing a project to install four natural gas-fired peaking units at the James River Industrial Park."

Dominion Energy Virginia, known legally as Virginia Electric and Power Co., said the proposed Chesterfield Electric Generation Project would generate nearly 1,000 MW and "would be protective of air quality, the environment and surrounding community."

The utility said the peaking units would be built in two phases, with the first phase online in the spring of 2023 and the second phase online in the spring of 2024.

Dominion Energy Virginia on Dec. 13 filed an application for an air permit with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

The project, with an estimated cost of about $600 million, also is subject to approval by the Virginia State Corporation Commission.

"These combustion turbine projects allow us to respond quickly to changing customer needs and conditions in the energy grid requiring a fast response resource," Dominion Energy spokesman Jeremy Slayton said in a Dec. 17 email.

Dominion Energy Virginia on Dec. 4 said that it was suspending a request for proposals for up to 1,500 MW of peaking generation announced about a month prior. The company did not release specific details about its decision to halt the bidding process.

The units were expected to cover the electricity generation gap left by the retirement of more than 2,000 MW of capacity earlier in 2019 and projects that are expected to be retired in the next six years.

The utility has also said peaking units will provide system balancing needs for its growing renewable generation fleet, producing electricity when solar and wind assets are not generating enough.

Dominion is committed to ensuring 3,000 MW of new solar and onshore wind projects are under development by 2022 as outlined by state initiatives.

"Even with these investments, certain infrastructure is still needed to ensure we can provide customers with the energy they need during peak times," Slayton said.

"There will be times when solar and wind are not generating the electricity to meet the demands of our customers," he added.

An S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis shows that Dominion Energy's portfolio includes 8,989 MW of operating natural gas capacity announced since 2000. In addition to at least 4,700 MW of new solar capacity in the next 15 years, all of the scenarios modeled in Dominion's 2018 integrated resource plan involve the addition of eight new natural-gas-fired power plants by 2033, with a combined capacity of up to 3,664 MW, in an era of essentially flat demand.