Dominion Virginia Power (Dominion) said Monday that the carbon footprint for a typical customer would drop by as much as 25 percent over the next eight years, contributing to an carbon emissions drop of 46 percent between 2007 and 2027.
The company said that nuclear power generation was necessary to achieve this outcome, as was its natural gas generation capacity and the expansion of its solar power capacity.
The company announced its carbon emissions reduction plan, noting that the grid needed to be modernized to support the increase in renewable power. Enhanced security, increased controls and provisions for more information for customers was also on the company's agenda spelled out it its annual Integrated Resources Plan.
Dominion said the main drivers of the predicted carbon emissions reductions included “a significant drop in the subsidized cost of utility-scale universal solar power, the ability to support the variable output of solar and wind with highly efficient natural gas generation and Virginia's two nuclear power stations.”
The company said the plan was to build a “combination” of power sources that would provide “the best environmental performance while maintaining around-the-clock reliability.”
The company said the political climate was characterized by "great uncertainty," noting the federal government's legal obligation to confront carbon emissions pollution despite President Donald Trump's science-denying stance on global warming.
Regardless of Trump's intention to rescind the Clean Power Plan – President Obama's plan for carbon emissions reductions from the power generation industry, which is under judicial review -- the federal government remains under a legal requirement to address carbon as a regulated pollutant, Dominion said.
Despite the uncertainty at the federal level, the state of Virginia's Air Pollution Control Board is reviewing a petition that addresses carbon emissions. Similarly, a gubernatorial task force in the state – under Gov. McAuliffe – is studying a response to carbon pollution.
Still, the main driver in its path towards a cleaner energy mix comes from market forces, including lower costs for solar power. In addition, the company said that it had converted four coal-fired plants to natural gas or biomass plants in recent years, encouraged conservation and increased efficiency at existing power stations to generate more electricity with less fuel.
The company said it could add as much as 5,200 megawatts of new solar generation in the next 25 years, but that this did not eliminate the need for reliable nuclear power.
Together with the company's North Anna and Surry nuclear facilities, over a third of Dominion's Virginia service territory could be powered with carbon-free electricity by 2032, the company said. "We believe this balance of solar, natural gas and nuclear hits the sweet spot in terms of cost, environmental performance and reliability for our customers,” said Paul Koonce, chief executive officer of Dominion Generation Group.
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