The Virginia Citizens Consumer Council filed on September 1 with the State Corporation Commission (Docket No. PUE-2016-00) to require Dominion Virginia Power “to obtain commission approval before making further expenditures related to ‘North Anna 3’ a proposed 1,500-megawatt (MW) nuclear reaction at the site of the [utility’s] existing two-unit … North Anna nuclear power facility in Mineral, Virginia.”
To date, the advocacy group claims, Dominion has spent [about] $600 million on project development and preliminary construction of North Anna 3 (excluding financing costs), but has not yet sought or obtained commission approval for those expenditures.
“While Dominion has represented to the commission that it is incurring these costs at the risk of its stockholders, the company has also stated that eventually it intends to seek recovery before the commission,” the filing states. “Approximately $310 million of North Anna 3 development costs have already been charged to Virginia customers.”
What’s more, the council said, the utility has violated law, because the Virginia Code, Section 56-234.3, direct monopoly utilities such as Dominion to file a petition seek formal approval from the commission prior to construction, or making financial commitments in furtherance of, generation projects larger than 100 MW.
In its filing, the advocacy group asks the commission “to protect Virginia ratepayers from hundreds of millions or billions of dollars in expenditures for development of a wasteful and unnecessary nuclear power plant project.”.
The group claims that the new nuclear facility would be the most expensive power plant ever built in the United States “and could raise customers’ rates by 26 percent or more according to the Virginia attorney general.”
Indeed, the Virginian Citizens Consumer Council alleges, although Dominion claims that North Anna 3 is needed for compliance with the federal Clean Power Plan, it would be far more costly than the low-carbon alternative of combined renewables, demand-side management and efficiency.
The utility giant is on pace to spend nearly $2 billion on the controversial reactor — which it maintains it hasn’t committed to building — by the end of 2018, according to a report in the local Richmond Times-Dispatch.. The utility said that would likely be the earliest it will ask the State Corporation Commission for approval.
“We are not barred from spending money on the project without prior approval of the SCC,” Dominion spokesperson Richard Zuercher told the Times-Dispatch. “We would need SCC approval to build the project and pass on prudent costs to customers.”
“We have substantially reduced spending on the potential new nuclear unit until the Clean Power Plan plays out,” Zuercher added. “The company believes that all options to meet the future electrical requirements of our customers must be considered. Nuclear is a safe and reliable option that does not produce any greenhouse gases, and, if built, a new unit could operate beyond 60 years.”