Commercial, Finance, Sourcing Renewables - May 15, 2020
Walmart warns against Dominion Energy RE tariff
Walmart expressed concerns this week about a proposed renewable energy tariff by Dominion Energy, after a report came out from the Virginia State Corporation Commission pushing for the project's approval, by warning that the cost of the utility’s plan would be too high what energy would be offered.
Under Dominion Energy’s proposed tariff, which was submitted for approval in May 2019, their C&I and residential customers in Virginia would have access to their 100% renewable energy option. However, Walmart and other renewable energy advocates have said that the cost of this program would be too high considering it would be for an “inferior product” and using energy that wasn’t 100% renewable, such as co-fired coal and biomass units, Utility Dive reported. The energy sold under this program would include the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center (VCHEC), a coal-fired power plant that burns biomass as 7% of its output.
The opposition is being targeted at the Virginia SCC hearing in April where the tariff was determined to be a positive step and hearing examiner Mary Beth Adams encouraged its passage. Walmart wrote in a response to the report that it failed to take into account the rates of other competitive service providers offering 100% renewable energy.
“[R]ather than needing to offer a product that charges a premium above standard service — as Dominion proposes here — customers should be able to pay less than standard service to receive 100% renewable power,” the retail giant wrote.
Dominion has largely been seeking a solution like this tariff as a way to retain its customers who have been cancelling their service due to a lack of renewables options. According to Utility Dive, Virginia is a regulated state and customers have previously been allowed to cancel service with Dominion if they could not get the renewable energy they wanted from the utility. If approved, the tariff would prevent other companies like Direct Energy and Calpine from signing new customers with their 100% renewable energy service.
Walmart is one of Dominion’s largest customers in the Commonwealth.
The Division of Consumer Counsel from the Virginia Office of the Attorney General has endorsed the SCC report, which sides with Dominion in that VCHEC could be included in their renewable energy portfolio under Virginia law. The report suggests a path of a second “no VCHEC” option within the program and stipulated that Dominion must sign 100 MW of load for at least 15,000 customers in six months or be canceled.
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