While noting that uncertainty around the U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan remains unresolved, Virginia regulators approved integrated resource plans by the state's two largest utilities that serve as potential road maps to compliance.
The Virginia State Corporation Commission on Dec. 14 approved 2016 integrated resource plans, or IRPs, filed by Dominion Virginia Power and Appalachian Power Co. Both utilities used their IRPs as preparation for the Clean Power Plan, which was stayed in February by the U.S. Supreme Court and faces an uncertain future under President-elect Donald Trump.
Dominion Virginia Power, known legally as Virginia Electric and Power Co., said in its IRP that it anticipates the need for more natural gas-fired generation and renewable resources as part of efforts to comply with the carbon-reduction plan. In addition, the company said it will continue to spend millions on the planning and development of a third 1,453-MW unit at its North Anna nuclear plant, even though it has not decided whether or not it will build the project. The SCC did not specifically address the controversial spending on North Anna in its final order.
American Electric Power Co. Inc. utility Appalachian Power said it will rely heavily on solar and wind generation to meet current and future environmental regulations, while it plans to continue operating the majority of its baseload generation plants.
"Even if the Clean Power Plan is upheld, it could be several years before a final State Implementation Plan ('SIP') is approved. Until such time, an IRP can only present scenarios that are based on compliance assumptions, rather than the specific requirements of compliance," the SCC wrote in its final orders for both utilities. The commission added that Appalachian Power and Dominion Virginia Power should continue to "model and present scenarios" for compliance in future IRPs similar to those in their approved resource plans.
The SCC shot down a request from the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition, or MAREC, that Appalachian Power "accelerate its planned procurement of additional wind resources and conduct an associated request for proposals," and that Dominion Virginia Power be ordered to issue an RFP for wind or renewable energy resources. The commission said the IRP is "not the appropriate forum" for ordering an RFP.
"Consistent with every prior final order issued under these provisions of the Code, we reiterate that approval of an IRP does not in any way create the slightest presumption that resource options contained in the approved IRP will be approved in a future certificate of public convenience and necessity ('CPCN'), rate adjustment clause ('RAC'), fuel factor, or other type of proceeding governed by different statutes," the SCC wrote in its orders. (SCC dockets PUE-2016-00049, PUE-2016-00050)
Dominion Virginia Power is a subsidiary of Dominion Resources Inc.