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Dominion signals end for Clover Project by 2025

South Boston News
The Clover Power Station
SoVaNow.com / July 08, 2020
Dominion Energy envisions closing the coal-fired Clover Power Station in Halifax County by 2025 as part of its plans for reducing carbon emissions over the coming decade.

In its latest Integrated Resources Plan (IRL) on file with the State Corporation Commission, Dominion Energy, through its Virginia Electric and Power Company unit, lays out four scenarios for the future of its electric generation business in Virginia. The IRP is a blueprint for meeting the utility’s load obligations over the next 15 years based on current technologies, market information, and projections.

It includes four alternative forecasts for future operations, based on different assumptions about limits on carbon-based emissions. According to Dominion, the plan is aimed at promoting reasonable prices, reliable service, energy independence, and environmental responsibility.

While some elements of the plan address regulations set forth under the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which passed the General Assembly and was signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam this year, the fate of older facilities such as the Clover Power Station are directly tied to diminishing economic returns for fossil fuel-intensive operations.

The Clover Power Station employs about 150 workers who manage operations of its two coal-burning units. Unit 1 went online in October 1995 and Unit 2 started up in March 1996. The power plant generates 865 megawatts of electricity, enough to power approximately 285,000 homes. Its average daily coal consumption is 3,786 tons.

Virginia Electric and Power reported conducting a “unit evaluation economic analysis” looking at the coming ten-year period for its coal-fired, heavy-oil fired, and large combined cycle generation facilities. The analysis found the cost of operating the Chesterfield, Yorktown and Clover facilities — all of which either burn coal or heavy oil — outweigh their future value.

By contrast, Virginia Electric indicated no plans to close either the 1,588 MW combined-cycle natural gas power plant located in Greensville County, built in 2018, or its 1,358 MW sister facility in Brunswick County, also a combined-cycle gas-fired power station that was built in 2016. While the utility suggests it will keep the two gas-fired plants in service for the foreseeable future, it also indicated no plans to build more such projects in the future.

The four scenarios laid out in the Integrated Resources Plan are as follows:

» Plan A assumes no new restrictions on CO2 emissions.

» Plan B assumes the utility will pursue development of solar, wind and energy storage resources while keeping 9,700 megawatts of natural-gas fired generation units “to address future system reliability, stability and energy independence issues” — an apparent reference to baseload power generation, which provides a steady flow of electricity at all times.

» Plan C envisions the full retirement of all carbon-emitting facilities by 2045 while the utility pursues significant development of solar, wind and energy storage resources.

» Plan D is similar to Plan C, except it increases the amount of solar resources envisioned for future development.

While Virginia Electric and Power Company claims it has not made any decisions regarding the retirement of any power generation units other than one in Yorktown and another in Chesterfield, under all four operating scenarios reported to the SCC, the company is expected to shutter the Clover power plant by 2025.

“[T]he Company’s coal-fired power plants continue to face pressure due to unfavorable market conditions and carbon regulations,” the Integrated Resources Plan states. The document was prepared by the Richmond law firm of McGuire Woods for Dominion to submit to the SCC.

Some of the utility’s envisioned actions come in direct response to the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which took effect July 1 after Democratic majorities in the House and Senate approved the legislation for Gov. Northam to sign. The law calls for Dominion Energy to retire all generation units that emit CO2 as a byproduct of combustion by 2045, unless the retirement of a particular unit would threaten grid reliability and security. The newly-enacted VCEA also calls for the company to improve its energy efficiency by 5 percent within the next five years.

In February, Dominion announced it would expand its greenhouse emissions reduction goals as part of a company-wide commitment to achieve zero carbon dioxide and methane emissions by 2050. That expansion comes with an enhanced focus on solar, offshore wind, energy storage, and combustion turbine generation projects currently under development. The utility said it will move away from coal-fired and heavy-oil fired units.

Any of the four alternatives in the 2020 IRP would set Dominion “on a trajectory to achieve these clean energy targets,” but the utility is asking state regulators to approve Plan B. That option calls for the retention of almost 10 gigawatts of natural gas-based electricity “to address future system reliability, stability and energy independence issues,” but still calls for the closure of the Clover Power Station.

The State Corporation Commission has begun its regulatory review of the Integrated Resources Plan. Interested persons have until Oct. 20 to file written comments concerning the issues presented in the IRP, or argue the merits of the IRP by filing a notice of participation on or before Aug. 4.



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Comments

Keep in mind, the IRP was filed prior to the environmentalist killing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would have been a primary fuel source for the Burnswick and Greensville power stations. Because there will be no ACP, this may well mean that Dominion will have to burn more coal to meet load during its peak times. How ironic would that be...environmentalists causing more coal to be burned. You can't make this stuff up!

Comments

Not likely. Coal is dead, as it should be. Most likely they will buy power from Progress or Duke before they start the coal plants up again. Natural Gas will find a way to the Southside, but should be done in a way that does not destroy peoples lives.

Comments

Burns and McDonnell was the oversight engineer on this plant. I served as the Chief Oversight Engineer until 1995 when Unit 1 went into service and I retired after 33 years with our great Company for an equally great Power Company.
Sad to hear it’s going to be retired at the not so ripe age of 30.
During my 22 year tenure as project manager on six large power plant projects around the country, we struggled to develop emissions controls with electrostatic precipitators and baghouses ( particulate removal), scrubbers to remove sulphur dioxide and advanced furnace burner technology to remove nitrogen oxides. It was a huge task but we finally “ got er done”, or so we thought. Didn’t take long for our environmental activist friends to start demanding carbon dioxide must go. I imagine if we solved that problem, other reasons would quickly be forthcoming to pitch a 300 year reserve of fuel we don’t have to go to war for. Doyle Williams, PE, retired


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