New kinds of energy require new ways to deliver them. We are expanding our generation portfolio, upgrading the electric grid, and augmenting our gas operations to better meet the next-generation energy needs of the communities we serve.
On this page
What you should know
We make substantial investments to build and maintain the systems that deliver energy to our customers.
We are improving our electric and gas delivery networks.
We are extending the life of our carbon-free nuclear stations.
We are using natural gas to help other industries reduce their carbon footprints.
We are making large investments in energy efficiency and customer knowledge.
We are doing these things while maintaining a safe, reliable, and affordable product.
Building the Future Today
It’s one thing to promise transformation, but quite another to carry it out. At Dominion Energy, we believe actions speak louder. And 2019 was a year of constant action on multiple fronts — from wind and solar, to grid transformation and enhancement, to upgrading our gas infrastructure.
We continued construction of our 12-megawatt offshore wind pilot project, which completed reliability testing and is ready to enter commercial service in the fall of 2020 — and announced the largest offshore wind project in the country, an approximately 2,600-megawatt wind farm 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. When fully constructed in 2026, the Dominion Energy Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind farm will deliver more than 8 million MWh of clean, renewable energy to the grid, avoiding as much as 4.877 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually — the equivalent of taking more than 1 million non-EV cars off the road for one year or planting more than 80 million trees.
These efforts dovetail with pledges we have made to the Commonwealth of Virginia: As of December 31, 2019, we had exceeded 50 percent of our commitment to have 3,000 megawatts of new solar and wind generation in operation or under development within Virginia by 2022. By August 1, 2020, we exceeded our commitment and had achieved 3,287 megawatts in development or operation in Virginia.
“We intend to be one of the most sustainable companies in the United States.”
Altogether in 2019, we brought online five solar projects, representing an investment of approximately $685 million for 388 megawatts of solar generating capacity (enough to power about 97,000 homes at peak output) in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
In April 2019, six new solar facilities totaling 350 megawatts were announced and dedicated to Facebook, and slated to be operational by 2020. We filed for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Virginia State Corporation Commission for our Sadler solar facility in Greensville County (the CPCN and our rider filing were approved in 2020). In October 2019, we also announced the largest addition to our solar fleet in Virginia — a 150-megawatt facility in Prince George County. That same month, we announced that Dominion Energy will supply the Commonwealth of Virginia with 420 megawatts of renewable energy by the end of 2022. When combined with previously announced solar projects, the power produced is enough to meet the equivalent of 45 percent of the state government's annual energy use.
Our solar expansion did not end with the calendar year. In January 2020 we announced a 120-megawatt solar facility to be shared by Amazon and Arlington County. The new facility, Amazon Arlington Solar Farm Virginia, will be located in Pittsylvania County and is anticipated to be complete in the second quarter of 2022. Also in January 2020, we announced the construction of a 20-megawatt solar facility dedicated to the College of William & Mary. The facility is expected to be completed by the end of 2021, and will offset nearly 50 percent of the university’s electricity needs.
To be of maximum benefit, generation projects need a strong transmission system. In 2019, we also invested $866 million in electric transmission projects at Dominion Energy Virginia, rebuilding 166 miles and adding 13 new miles of electric transmission lines. On the distribution side of our business, we made $879 million in capital investments (including $143 million for strategic distribution undergrounding of 247 miles of distribution power lines, bringing the total to 1,300 miles), and made 26 new data-center connections. We also implemented new construction standards that will build a stronger overhead grid and improve resiliency. We also energized the Surry-Skiffes Creek power line in Virginia’s Tidewater region, ensuring adequate power to meet the area’s economic-growth and development needs and ensure continued reliability. We likewise added multiple transmission and distribution substations to interconnect third-party solar sites.
We made similar improvements on the gas side of our business. In 2019, we invested more than $390 million in pipeline replacement programs at the company’s gas utilities. Through our infrastructure replacement program in Utah, we installed more than 100,000 linear feet of mostly 24-inch pipe, increasing capacity to the rapidly growing Wasatch Front.
In North Carolina, we helped the City of Raleigh as it built a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station at the Raleigh Transit Terminal. The station will be fueled by biogas from the City of Raleigh Waste Treatment facility, using Dominion Energy North Carolina’s system to deliver gas to the Transit Center. The city expects to have 75 CNG-powered buses in its fleet, providing a sustainable source of fuel for the transit operations. Compressed natural gas has been a steady growth market for Dominion Energy, and this project represents a substantial increase in the scale of CNG growth. It also will help our customers reduce their own carbon footprints, which fits in with the company’s beyond-net-zero plans.
Finally, in March 2019, we completed a multiyear project to provide firm gas service to Duke Energy’s Skyland Power Generating Station in Arden, North Carolina. The new service allowed Duke Energy to convert the Skyland plant from coal to clean-burning natural gas, reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality in the region around Asheville. The project involved building 70 miles of new transmission pipeline and installing seven new compressors.
Grid and Gas Transformation
In 2018, the Virginia General Assembly passed and the Governor signed the Grid Transformation and Security Act (GTSA), an important policy step recognizing the importance of transformational change in the electric distribution system. The existing grid was designed for one-way power flows: from dispatchable, centralized generating stations through the transmission and distribution systems to end-use customers. The current distribution grid cannot effectively integrate ever-increasing amounts of renewable generation, including customer-level distributed energy. That is why the GTSA made possible a proposed 10-year upgrade of the electric grid in Virginia.
In December 2019, we filed for the approval of an eighth wave of DSM programs consisting of 14 demand-side management programs. These programs, which received approval in July 2020, help customers reduce energy usage and demand on the system. Within the first two years of the GTSA, the company has proposed $340 million worth of efficiency programs towards the GTSA’s $870 million goal, or roughly 40 percent. The company continues to work with industry stakeholders to find additional program opportunities towards the goal. This continues the company’s long-term commitment to offering its customers these programs. Since 2008, the company has discounted more than 11 million energy efficient lightbulbs and reached over 300,000 customers through its energy efficiency and demand response programs.
In 2020, the Virginia State Corporation Commission approved many elements of our revised Grid Transformation Plan, including a customer information platform; select grid-hardening and grid-technology initiatives; physical and cyber security measures; transportation electrification; and other supporting programs
In South Carolina, we used 2019 to lay the groundwork for deployment of more than 1.1 million smart electric and gas meters — an effort that will occur from 2020 through early 2023. When fully deployed, the meters’ remote reading and operational capabilities will eliminate more than 250,000 truck rolls annually, saving 55,000 hours of drive time — and eliminating 591 metric tons of carbon dioxide. This will also eliminate much of the routine access we need to our customers’ property.
The smart meters will enable better demand-side management and new rate structures that will reduce peak demand. The advanced metering infrastructure will enable customers to manage their energy use more closely and support smart-charging initiatives for electric vehicles. It also will improve our ability to model rates, forecast demand loads, model load flow throughout the grid, and manage the distribution grid more effectively. All of this will translate to improved system reliability, faster power restoration, and better targeting of crews to outage areas. In addition, since 2010, DESC has invested more than $113 million in demand-side management programs, enabling around 145,000 residential customers and more than 7,000 businesses to save more than 797,000 megawatt-hours of energy. That is equivalent to the power consumed by 67,463 homes over the course of a year, and it avoided 563,384 metric tons of carbon-dioxide emissions.
In June 2019, DESC applied to the South Carolina Public Service Commission for a five-year extension and an expanded portfolio of demand-side management programs. In December 2019, the Commission granted approval for the portfolio. As a result, over the next five years DESC will double its energy savings and significantly expand customer participation in its DSM programs. The programs include seven focused on residential customers and three focused on commercial and industrial customers, as well as two new programs — one for multifamily residences, and another for municipal LED lighting. DESC’s low-income program, the Neighborhood Energy Efficiency Program, will expand by roughly 45 percent during the five-year extension.
The AMI investments noted above also will benefit our gas customers. Having access to daily interval reading data can improve system monitoring, maintenance, and forecasting, and allow for additional rate options — including critical peak rates, curtailment rates, and peak-time rebates for all classes of customers.
Company-wide, we offer a variety of energy efficiency programs in our natural gas distribution business, such as ThermWise, HouseWarming, and Home Performance with Energy Star. For more on those, see the Energy Value section of this report. We expect programmatic and project-related investments on the gas side of our business to include:
- Almost $1.2 billion to replace pipelines at our local distribution companies from 2020-2022. These investments not only improve reliability and ensure public safety, but also reduce methane emissions when replacing cast-iron, bare-steel, or ineffectively coated steel.
- Another $1 billion in growth capital expenditures for our gas distribution business from 2020-2022. These next-generation investments will emphasize projects to add flexibility and ensure maximum utilization of existing pipeline and storage infrastructure. As we adapt to an economy that features greater reliance on intermittent energy sources, the durability of the natural gas grid is a vital component of a secure cleaner-energy future.
Nuclear energy is an essential part of the fight against climate change. The U.S Energy Information Administration reports that in 2019, nuclear power contributed nearly 20 percent of all U.S. electricity generation. Fossil fuels made up more than 62 percent, and renewables made up 17.5 percent. . It is feasible to replace certain fossil-fuel generation with renewables and storage by 2050 — the point by which greenhouse-gas emissions must hit net zero to avoid average global warming of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. However, replacing both fossil-fuel generation and nuclear generation would be substantially harder, especially given increasing demand from the electrification of transportation and buildings.
In addition, nuclear power provides steady baseload generation. Dominion Energy’s nuclear power stations provide more than a third of its total electricity generation — enough energy to power roughly 3 million homes around the clock. As part of Dominion Energy’s focus on reliability and its commitment to achieve net zero emissions, the company is committed to extending the life of its nuclear fleet.
In 2017, Dominion Energy notified the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission of its intent to renew the license for its North Anna Power Station for another 20-year term and expects to file the application this year. In October 2018, we submitted a license renewal application for the Surry Power Station. As part of the relicensing process, the company expects to spend up to $4 billion in upgrades to the units.
In Connecticut, our Millstone Power Station provides 43 percent of the state’s electricity generation and more than 90 percent of its carbon-free electricity. In March of 2019, Dominion Energy reached an agreement with the state under which Millstone will continue to provide Connecticut with power for 10 years.
“By 2050, the world must increase electricity generation by 100 percent while reducing emissions from electricity generation by 100 percent.”
Prior to that agreement, the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection and the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority conducted a resource assessment considering various scenarios that might unfold in the absence of continued power from Millstone. The scenarios explored cases in which Millstone’s power was replaced by the open energy market, by a mix that included 25 percent zero-emission sources other than nuclear, and by a mix that consisted entirely of non-nuclear, zero-emissions sources. In all three scenarios, costs to ratepayers increased. In the first two scenarios, greenhouse-gas emissions also increased. While emissions did not increase when 100 percent of Millstone’s generation was replaced by non-nuclear zero-emissions sources, the price to ratepayers rose $5.5 billion.
Findings such as these add weight to the conclusion from MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change that “Continued focus on lowering the cost of baseload generation from low-carbon sources such as nuclear would make achieving deep reductions in carbon emissions much less costly.” In another study published in the journal Joule, researchers found that (in the words of MIT Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering and Associate Provost Richard Lester) “Contrary to fears that effective climate mitigation efforts will be cripplingly expensive, our work shows that even deep decarbonization of the electric power sector is achievable at relatively modest additional cost. But contrary to beliefs that carbon-free electricity can be generated easily and cheaply with wind, solar energy, and storage batteries alone, our analysis makes clear that the societal cost of achieving deep decarbonization that way will likely be far more expensive than is necessary.”
Such conclusions reinforce our belief that nuclear energy not only provides a reliable source of zero-carbon electricity, it also will help protect lower-income customers from any cost increases associated with the transition to a clean-energy economy.
Sustainable Natural Gas
Natural gas plays a major role in reducing greenhouse-gas and other emissions. It has enabled Dominion Energy to transition from coal — which once made up roughly half our electric production, and now accounts for 12 percent. Natural gas also has supported integrating renewable energy sources on to the electric grid.
While we are happy about this progress, we know we can do more. For example, we are focusing on three key areas to make our primary natural gas business more sustainable:
- We are investing in new equipment and technology and dramatically reducing the practice of gas venting during maintenance to reduce any methane emissions on our system. This will help us achieve our methane-emission reduction goals: Under net zero, the company plans to reduce methane emissions by 65 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2040, from 2010 levels.
- Furthermore, the company has committed to invest in carbon-beneficial renewable natural gas (RNG) projects that will capture an amount of methane from U.S. farms at least equivalent to any remaining methane and carbon dioxide emissions from the company's natural gas operations, making Dominion Energy's gas infrastructure business net zero 10 years before the overall company.
- All remaining emissions from our natural gas operations will be offset through investments in carbon-beneficial renewable natural gas, making this area of the business net zero by 2040.
- We are investing in resiliency programs to make our system safer, more secure, more flexible, and more sustainable.
- We are pursuing other ways to help our industry and others reduce their carbon footprint by extending the benefits of natural gas to our customers and communities. These include:
- Waste-to-energy partnerships with agriculture;
- Backup support for intermittent renewable generation;
- LNG exports to countries seeking to reduce their reliance on coal; and
- Transitioning from the use of coal and oil in power generation and manufacturing.
For a fuller discussion of these efforts, see this report’s section on Beyond Net Zero.
In 2014, construction began on a $4.1 billion facility to liquefy natural gas at Dominion Energy’s Cove Point LNG import terminal on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. The facility entered commercial operation in 2018, and a transport ship carrying the first cargo of LNG produced for export left Cove Point on March 1, 2018. The terminal loaded its 100th ship in November 2019; by then, it had delivered more than 4 billion gallons of LNG to more than 20 countries, helping them to reduce global reliance on higher-carbon coal and oil.
Dominion Energy did not expand the footprint of the original LNG import facility to accommodate the liquefaction project, and the facility maintains a surrounding 800-acre nature preserve. In addition to the nearly 3,000 construction jobs created when Cove Point was built, the facility also supports nearly 100 permanent jobs at the site. Cove Point has committed to contribute $40 million in new annual revenue to Calvert County, Maryland; Cove Point is an important corporate citizen, providing more than half of new revenue to the county’s fiscal 2020 budget.
Cove Point contributes to the environmental sustainability of energy production worldwide by providing American allies in Japan, India, and elsewhere with a new source of natural gas for the next two decades or more. This infrastructure is helping those countries reduce their carbon footprints while improving the reliability of their gas and electric utilities. In recent years, India has pursued an ambitious program of rural electrification. Despite those efforts, rural areas still face considerable challenges related to power quality and reliability — a problem that disproportionately affects the poor. LNG from Cove Point can help alleviate that disparity.
In July, 2020, we announced the pending sale of substantially all of our gas transmission and storage assets to Berkshire Hathaway Energy. Assets covered by the agreement include a 25 percent operating interest in Cove Point; in combination with a previous sale of a 25 percent equity interest in Cove Point to Brookfield Super-Core Infrastructure Partners, this leaves Dominion Energy with a 50-percent non-operating interest in the facility.