Dominion Examines Clean Power Plan Options; Finds Solar Lowest Cost, But Requires Further Study

July 2015

On July 1, 2015, Dominion filed an updated integrated resource plan (IRP) in Virginia and North Carolina. The IRP included an analysis of the potential responses to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan. The utility concluded utility-scale solar merits further study as it offered the lowest cost and lowest risk compliance option.

Key Details

  • In June 2014, the EPA proposed the Clean Power Plan to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants
  • Dominion’s IRP examined four Clean Power Plan scenarios against a business-as-usual baseline that did not comply with the Clean Power Plan requirements. Each case contemplates a base amount of new natural gas capacity
  • The compliance scenarios included:
    • Plan A – Solar Focus: Strategy develops significant solar resources coupled with new natural gas generation as a proxy for system upgrades required to ensure reliability
    • Plan B – Co‐fire Focus: Strategy converts coal generators to co‐fire natural gas and includes roughly half the solar development found in Plan A
    • Plan C – Nuclear Focus: Strategy builds new nuclear generation coupled with limited natural gas additions
    • Plan D – Wind Focus: Strategy develops onshore and offshore wind coupled with significant natural gas additions
  • Among the four compliance plans, Dominion found the solar-focused plan (Plan A) to provide the “lowest cost option with the lowest risk.” However, the company noted operating an intermittent and non-dispatchable resource at such a significant scale could pose operational challenges and requires further study

Implications

Dominion’s IRP illustrates how solar may be a viable and valuable supply side resource within a comprehensive Clean Power Plan compliance strategy. Overall, the analysis highlights the importance of analyzing a range of compliance options before developing a compliance strategy.

More Information

Utility Dive: Dominion Questions Solar, Praises Coal, Decries Carbon Rules in IRP Filing

Dominion: Integrated Resource Plan Filed July 1, 2015

This report is part of the Clean Tech & Sustainability Minute series. To view all featured Minutes, please click here.

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Contributing Authors

Paul Quinlan Clean Tech Manager

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