In April this year, the VA State Legislature, controlled by the Democrat Party, and Democrat Governor Ralph Northam, passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA). The VCEA imposed on Dominion Energy, the monopoly authorized by Virginia to provide all of Virginia’s electricity, a series of unprecedented, drastic, and draconian mandates designed to assure that by 2045 all of Virginia’s electricity will be produced in a manner which will result in “net zero emissions” of carbon dioxide (CO2). Dominion calls this requirement “one of the most aggressive and sweeping in the nation.”

They aren’t kidding.

On May 1, 2020, Dominion submitted to the State Corporation Commission the 15 year Plan for electricity generation which it intends to follow in order to achieve this net zero result.

Although the Plan is written in mind numbing legalese – designed to mask its true impact on electricity costs to VA consumers – its results are staggering and shocking. Not only does the VCEA bypass the historic jurisdiction of the State Corporation Commission over electricity generation in the Commonwealth, it also imposes on the Commonwealth for the next 25 years a framework of mandates that are devastating for VA consumers.

What follows is a description of the immense costs which the average Virginia consumer will be required to absorb in order to meet these mandates.

First, hidden among the dense prose and jargon in the Dominion plan is the startling fact that the VCEA mandates an increase in the average monthly electric bill for the average consumer of 500 dollars per year! This additional cost is above and beyond the ordinary cost which Dominion would incur in providing electricity to the average consumer.

The next obvious question is $500 per year for what?

The answer is absolutely zero impact on climate. That is zero. As in nada, zip, zilch, bupkus impact on the temperature of Virginia, much less than on that of the Earth. Dominion does not even claim as much, nor can it, because US Government climate models show that even if all fossil fuel use in the US were eliminated today, there would be no measurable impact on the climate of the Earth.

So the average VA consumer is being asked – actually required – to cough up 500 dollars per year for their electricity bill in order to enable ……….. cleaner air? No. Cleaner water? No. Cleaner land? Absolutely not. Will the average VA consumer be able to feel, touch or smell any difference in their everyday environment because of this extra expenditure? Not at all.

But wait! as they say in the midnight TV commercials. It gets worse.

Hidden in the dense prose of the Dominion application is the admission that achieving all the goals of the VCEA will require “the construction of four interstate transmission lines at an estimated cost of $8.4 billion”. That’s 8.4 billion dollars in addition to the $500 dollars per year that VA ratepayers already have to absorb because of the VCEA.

After all of the mandates of the VCEA are added up, Dominion customers will be saddled with $30 billion in additional expense over the fifteen year period covered by the Dominion plan – $30 billion more than would be the case if the status quo were maintained. And if for some reason CO2 is of concern to you, the status quo would result in zero increase in CO2 output over that same 15 year period.

Had enough? Read on.

The Plan also states that the VCEA mandates

large quantities of solar capacity in Virginia …….. which would require a land use of 490 square miles. This land mass is nearly 25% larger than Fairfax County …… or the equivalent of nearly 237,000 football fields.” So not only do ratepayers need to absorb additional electricity costs, but the Virginia countryside also will be blighted with a mind blowing landscape of solar panels.

Finally, the Dominion submission ends with these gems:

[VCEA mandates will result in] “reliability deficiencies on twenty six 115 kV lines, thirty two 230 kV lines, six 500 kV lines, and eleven transmission reformers”……..

Therefore, the retirement of traditional generation coupled with the addition of large quantities of intermittent renewable generation will adversely affect both electric system reliability and the Company’s ability to restore the system in the event of a large scale blackout”.

So there you have it: $500 per customer in additional yearly electricity costs, $30 billion in increased capital costs, the ruination of hundreds of thousands acres of Virginia landscape, and a significant hit to system reliability – with no visible improvement in the environment. The Virginia electricity plan brought to you by the Democrat Virginia legislature and Democrat Governor Ralph Northam.

What’s not to like?

Author

  • Johnson has spent the last four decades working in the public and private sectors in Virginia, primarily in the fields of project finance and maritime transportation. He began his career in public service as Chairman of the Board of the Virginia Port Authority. He was appointed by President George W. Bush, and confirmed by the Senate, as a member of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and most recently, as Administrator of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. In that capacity, he became knowledgeable in the field of climate and its impact on the Great Lakes. He currently serves on CFACT's Board of Advisors. Johnson holds a B.A. degree from Yale University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia.