by Sarah Roderick-Fitch
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin praised the new integrated plan released by Dominion Energy, touting his administration’s energy plan in comparison.
The energy company released its 2023 Integrated Resource Plan, which outlines “strategic pathways” to ensure the energy provider can consistently deliver power to residents and Virginia businesses.
Youngkin applauded the plan as it reflects similarities to the energy plan his administration released late last year, calling it a “common sense” approach to addressing the commonwealth’s growing energy needs.
“Dominion Energy validates our ‘All American, All-of-the-Above’ energy plan released in October 2022, which called for common sense energy policy, including flexibility in our laws and regulations,” Youngkin said. “Virginia’s economy is growing, and the accelerated electricity demands of Virginia’s industrial users demonstrate the need for a more realistic and judicious approach to power planning.”
The plan blends present and future technologies. It allows for the adoption of emerging technologies while retaining existing technologies.
Youngkin argues the Dominion plan underscores the need to keep up with the commonwealth’s economy and population growth. It also addresses the need for clean, reliable, affordable energy. Virginia has become a technology hub for the East Coast, with the highest concentration of data centers in the U.S.
The IRP also addresses the increased demand for “baseload generation technologies,” which include more traditional forms of energy such as natural gas and nuclear and renewables like solar and wind.
PJM, the commonwealth’s regional transmission operator, has warned against retiring existing generation facilities too soon. The operator has projected that Dominion’s load is anticipated to grow 5% each year. It is higher than projected when the Clean Economy Act was evaluated.
Youngkin addressed the gap between supply and demand in the framework.
“Baseload generation provides the energy backbone to Virginia’s economy, and it would be a huge mistake to turn it off without an achievable plan to replace it,” Youngkin said. “I applaud Dominion Energy for taking a serious look at the anticipated demand and providing common sense pathways to proactively delay the retirement of critical baseload capacity in this IRP. Our regulated utilities have the responsibility to ‘keep the lights on.’”
Dominion’s plan allows for alternatives that would postpone anticipated retirements of current generators to maintain grid dependability in the commonwealth. The additional concern with the current retirement plan would increase the need to purchase 100% to 300% more energy from neighboring states. It would mean more Virginia residents and businesses would be at the mercy of other states’ policies and costs, which could affect affordability.
Youngkin vowed to continue to work on ensuring “reliable, affordable and clean electricity.”
Youngkin said the state was working with “all stakeholders” to “ccelerate the deployment of critical infrastructure and new technologies such as advanced nuclear, hydrogen, carbon capture, and battery storage.”
Dominion’s plan is likely to face pushback from environmental groups who have been critical of Youngkin’s similar energy plan, which have accused the governor of relying too much on new technologies, which may not be as reliable.
“The governor’s energy plan hangs its hopes on new technologies that don’t exist or have unproven reliability and totally fails to prioritize technologies that are here, ready to go, and are vital to addressing the climate crisis,” said Connor Kish, the legislative and political director of Sierra Club Virginia Chapter. “Somehow, most of the governor’s plan is either stuck in the past or living in a non-existent future. The governor had a great opportunity to lead and meet the requirements of the Virginia Energy Plan, but he missed.”
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Sarah Roderick-Fitch is The Center Square’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Editor. She has previously worked as an editor, and has been a contributing writer for several publications. In addition to writing and editing, Sarah spent nearly a decade working for non-profit, public policy organizations in the Washington, DC area.
Photo “Glenn Youngkin” by Glenn Youngkin. Background Photo “Dominion Energy Working Trucks” by Dominion Energy.