SCC energy regulatory update for January 7-11, 2019

(1)    SCC approves APCo 100% renewable energy tariff – Case No. PUR-2017-00179

 The SCC has approved APCo’s 100% renewable energy tariff, designated Rider WWS. Rider WWS would repackage the generation from several wind and hydroelectric facilities and make this energy available to customers at a premium of $0.00425 per kWh. Once APCo’s tariff is in place, customers will lose their current rights to shop for renewable generation from non-utility companies. Several renewable energy and environmental advocates asked the SCC to deny the application, arguing that the rates are unreasonable and not tied to market prices for renewable energy. The hearing examiner assigned to the case found the rates to be “unjust and unreasonable” and recommended that the SCC deny the application.

 (2)    Dominion’s withdraws 100% renewable energy tariff for small and medium-sized customers – Case No. PUR-2017-00157

 On January 10, Dominion withdrew its 100% renewable tariff application, Rider CRG-S. Dominion stated that it intended to re-file its application following the SCC’s guidance in the APCo decision. The hearing examiner who conducted the Rider CRG-S proceeding recommended approval of the application, but with two caveats: (1) that there should be no rate of return margin applied, and (2) that the rate should reflect monthly, as opposed to hourly, balancing. “Balancing” refers to the time period over which a customer’s kWh usage must be matched with renewable energy generation. Dominion proposed balancing customer demand on an hourly basis, while environmental advocates and the hearing examiner favored monthly balancing.

 (3)    Hearing Examiner’s Report in Walmart aggregation case – Case Nos. PUR-2017-00173 and PUR-2017-00174

 On January 11, a hearing examiner entered a report and recommendation regarding Walmart’s request to aggregate the demand of multiple accounts in order to leave the Dominion and APCo system. The hearing examiner did not issue a firm recommendation for the SCC to approve or reject the application, but made several findings. For background, Virginia law allows customers, in certain circumstances, to combine the demands of multiple accounts in order to reach the statutory threshold required for shopping. The SCC must find such requests to be “consistent with the public interest.” Walmart claimed that it wants to shop in order to pursue renewable energy goals. The hearing examiner found that “Walmart’s [renewable energy] goals appear to be consistent with the energy objectives established in the Commonwealth’s Energy Plan.” The hearing examiner also found that neither Dominion nor APCo would be harmed if Walmart left the system, but that the likely cost impact of Walmart’s decision to leave utility service would be $0.05 per month for APCo customers using 1,000 kWh per month and $0.13 for Dominion customers. The hearing examiner’s findings and recommendations are not binding on the commissioners. There is no deadline for the Commission to enter a final order.  

 (4)    Procedural schedule set for APCo Grid Transformation Plan filing – Case No. PUR-2018-00198

The SCC has entered a procedural schedule for this case and set an evidentiary hearing for April 23, 2019. APCo’s grid transformation filing proposes a total investment of approximately $415 million and includes “measures to facilitate the integration of distributed energy resources and measures to enhance physical electric distribution grid reliability and security.” The filing does not address how or when costs will be recovered from customers. An evidentiary hearing will be held on April 23, 2019. The deadline to intervene as a formal party is February 7. Comments may be filed by any non party on or before June April 16..

(5)    Procedural schedule set for Dominion coal ash RAC application – Case No. PUR-2018-00195

The SCC has set a procedural schedule for reviewing Dominion’s recent environmental rate adjustment clause filing. Dominion has applied for SCC approval of a RAC to recover the costs of new coal ash ponds and treatment facilities. Dominion says these investments are necessary to comply with the federal CCR rule and “in order to continue operating the coal-fired generating units at Chesterfield, Clover, and Mt. Storm.” The monthly bill impact of the new rider would be $2.15 of a residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month. Dominion is requesting recovery of $302 million in capital expenditures, $247 million of which is for the Chesterfield units. An evidentiary hearing will be held on June 11, 2019. The deadline to intervene as a formal party is March 12. Comments may be filed by any non party on or before June 4.