Utility’s resource plan leaves federal clean energy dollars on the table
COLUMBIA, S.C. — This week, the South Carolina Public Service Commission heard public testimony regarding Dominion Energy South Carolina’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). Several environmental organizations have intervened to recommend clean energy alternatives to Dominion’s plan after reviewing their proposed energy portfolio that relies heavily on fossil fuels.
“Integrated resource plans” serve as roadmaps showing proposed power sources companies plan to invest in in the future. Dominion’s plan proposes a new major gas plant, delays coal retirements, and fails to take advantage of federal energy credits for utilities looking to invest in abundant clean energy.
“In a time when gas prices have driven up rates about 18% in the past year, it’s beyond us why Dominion would want to invest in a major new gas plant,” said Kate Mixson, SELC Senior Attorney. “South Carolina ratepayers are still rebuilding trust with their utilities and struggling with bills – we need our utilities to buy in to clean, cheap and reliable energy sources.”
The public hearing was set in response to multiple requests from Dominion customers for an opportunity to provide input on the utility’s plan. While customers can always file comments in Commission dockets, this is the first time the commission provided an opportunity for the public to present testimony on the integrated resource plan.
Public comments were largely critical of the plan, and ratepayers voiced concerns over the new gas plant, increasingly severe weather in a warming climate, and bill hikes.
“Dominion Energy’s IRP calls for a major new gas plant, in 2023, that’s a lot like investing in a lead paint factory,” said Dominion ratepayer Belvin Olasov. Cassandra Fralix, another Dominion customer, said, “Gas prices are volatile and unpredictable. Bills have increased 18% since May 2022. This is a very serious matter, and a lot lies in your hands.”
During an evidentiary hearing following the public hearing, SELC, on behalf of the Coastal Conservation League and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, presented evidence from expert witnesses recommending that the Commission reject Dominion’s proposed plan and require the utility to invest more in abundant, clean energy.
“Ratepayers in the South pay some of the highest energy bills in the country, and with more extreme heat driving up monthly bills everyone is looking for relief,” said Forest Bradley-Wright, Energy Efficiency Director at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Instead of prioritizing clean energy generation and energy efficiency programs to lower customer bills, Dominion wants to extend our reliance on expensive and outdated coal and fossil gas power plants.”
[Press release from the Southern Environmental Law Center.]
About the Southern Environmental Law Center
The Southern Environmental Law Center is one of the nation’s most powerful defenders of the environment, rooted in the South. With a long track record, SELC takes on the toughest environmental challenges in court, in government, and in our communities to protect our region’s air, water, climate, wildlife, lands, and people. Nonprofit and nonpartisan, the organization has a staff of 200, including more than 100 attorneys, and is headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., with offices in Asheville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Chapel Hill, Charleston, Nashville, Richmond, and Washington, D.C. southernenvironment.org
About the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Since 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has worked to promote responsible and equitable energy choices to ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at www.cleanenergy.org.