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SC regulators reject Dominion Energy's proposed resource plan

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

Dominion Energy South Carolina Inc. must "modify and refile" its 2020 integrated resource plan after South Carolina regulators unanimously rejected the utility's 15-year proposal for meeting its customers' energy and capacity needs.

The Dominion Energy Inc. subsidiary actually provided several resource plans as part of its analysis, all of which included adding natural gas combustion turbines and combined-cycle plants; four plans also added renewables. In its integrated resource plan, or IRP, filed in late February, the utility said a plan that only adds combustion turbines, along with a plan that adds solar with storage and a plan that focuses on coal retirements "rank the least cost depending upon the sensitivity selection."

In a Dec. 9 directive, however, the Public Service Commission of South Carolina instructed Dominion to remodel the costs of its plans "using the specified cost and capacity assumptions recommended by the South Carolina Solar Business Alliance and industry publications."

In his motion, PSC Chairman Justin Williams wrote that the company "used several assumptions that require improvement."

Dominion must also include steps in its modified short-term action plan that "achieve adoption rates of [demand-side management, or DSM] consistent with the most economically viable and achievable levels of projected DSM."

In addition, Dominion must initiate a stakeholder process to discuss the "implementation of capacity expansion modeling software" while addressing ratepayer risk, a retirement analysis of coal plants and any other issues the parties agree to address.

The utility is required to address bill impacts, reliability and resiliency.

"Dominion is required to update its planning assumptions relating to the energy and demand forecast, commodity fuel price inputs, renewable energy forecast, energy efficiency and demand-side management forecasts, and changes to projected retirement dates of existing units in its modified 2020 IRP and in future IRPs," the directive states.

Dominion must also add at least one additional lower-carbon option to the 2021 or 2022 IRP update.

The 2020 plan was filed to align with the South Carolina Energy Freedom Act signed into law in May 2019.

In addition to lifting the state's cap on net metering, the law expands renewable energy access and requires utilities to provide "evaluation of the adoption of renewable energy, energy efficiency and demand response" as well as energy storage in their IRPs.

"Dominion Energy diligently strived to satisfy all requirements set forth in the new law and to address other parties' comments during this proceeding in order to provide the most cost-effective, safe and reliable path to a sustainable energy future for our customers," Dominion Energy South Carolina spokesperson Rhonda O'Banion said in a Dec. 11 email. "We will thoroughly review the Public Service Commission's final order on the IRP and make necessary revisions in a timely manner. We remain committed to providing our customers with the safe, reliable service they count on us for every day."

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