An image of the Dominion Energy offices UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4f75
Photography by Davis Burroughs

The Virginia Attorney General’s office is trying to prevent Dominion Energy from charging customers $247 million to recover money spent on environmental upgrades at its Chesterfield County power plant.

Dominion said in December that the upgrades to four coal-burning energy units were needed to meet federal and state regulations. But the AG’s office says Dominion knew, or should have known, that these units would need upgrades and saved accordingly, instead of trying to charge customers for something that will “provide little or no value” to them.

In its December filing with the State Corporation Commission, which regulates the utility, Dominion said that charging customers would allow the company to recover the costs of the upgrades, along with a 9.2% profit.

If the SCC approves the project, households using roughly 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month would see their bill rise by $2.15 starting in November. If the SCC rejects Dominion’s application, the company will have to absorb most of the project’s costs.

Scott Norwood, an energy consultant hired by the attorney general’s office, told the SCC that Dominion had questions about the economic viability of its coal facilities since 2011, long before the company opted to proceed with its multi-million dollar environmental improvement projects.

Norwood said Dominion had other options and could’ve converted the units to burn natural gas or retired them ahead of schedule. He also criticized the company’s decision-making process and its failure to provide any data to support the decision to upgrade the coal-burning units.

Dominion has said for years that it is shifting towards cleaner and renewable energy sources, but maintains that coal remains an important part of the company’s portfolio.

The company is trying to recover $66.8 million for the construction of a modern landfill for coal ash, a bridge connecting the landfill to the power plant, and surrounding roadwork. Dominion is also hoping to recover an additional $180 million spent to transition the power plant away from transporting and storing coal ash with water.

Dominion’s case will go before the SCC in June.