Arizona Corporation Commission Rejects Utilities' Integrated Resource Plans

LCG, March 22, 2018--The Arizona Corporation Commission last week rejected the Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) filed by Tucson Electric Power Co. (TEP), sister utility UniSource Energy Services (UNS) and Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) and has ordered them to develop plans that reduce their dependence upon natural gas and new, gas-fired power plants. The Commission prefers greater reliance on renewable energy and storage.

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Get a good picture of ERCOT in LCG’s newly released 2018 ERCOT Outlook

LCG, March 21, 2018 --Texas continues to experience an unprecedented transformation in its energy industry. The state saw record wind energy production in 2017 and will continue to see wind growth through 2018. Large transmission projects and upgrades have taken place. New import and export capabilities are on the horizon, such as through the integration of Lubbock Power & Light and the possible Southern Cross transmission project.

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Industry News

Dominion Energy Announces Plans to Pursue New Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Facility Virginia

LCG, September 8, 2017--Dominion Energy Virginia announced yesterday that it will proceed with its plan to study the feasibility of a new pumped storage hydroelectric facility in the coalfield region of Southwest Virginia by conducting in-depth studies of two potential sites: a 4,100-acre site in Tazewell County and an abandoned mine in Wise County. The preliminary estimate for a single facility could be in the range of $2 billion.

Dominion Energy filed a preliminary permit with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the Tazewell location on Wednesday and has contracted with Virginia Tech to conduct the study of the former Bullitt Mine near Appalachia, Virginia.

Dominion Energy's vice president-Generation Construction stated, "We are on parallel paths with performing studies on these two sites. The FERC application for the Tazewell site will allow us to proceed with the rigorous environmental, geological, archeological and technical studies, while further assessing the economics of the project. In addition, the detailed study on the mine site allows us to explore the feasibility of abandoned mine cavities for pumped hydroelectric storage. We expect to make a decision on which site to advance by mid-2018."

Conceptually, a pumped storage hydroelectric facility works by storing water in an upper reservoir. When demand for electricity is high and electricity prices rise, water is released to flow down to a lower reservoir water through turbines to produce electricity. When demand for electricity is low and prices are low, electricity is used to reverse the turbines and pump the water back from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir, where the water is stored to be used again when needed.

Pumped storage facilities typically act as a utility-scale energy storage system used daily. Water flows down to generate power during the peak demand hours of the day, and the water is pumped back up to the reservoir during the night to store energy for the next day.

Dominion Energy owns about 2,600 acres of the Tazewell site near East River Mountain, which it purchased in 2009 when it was pursuing another electric generation project. Studies are underway by Virginia Tech that are expected to determine if the site is viable to proceed with a FERC license application later in 2018.

With regards to the Bullitt Mine site, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy previously conducted research on the feasibility of using abandoned mines for pumped storage and looked at numerous sites in the coalfield region. The research identified the former Bullitt Mine as one of its top candidates. The mine was closed in 1997 and is currently flooded. A pumped storage facility could conceivably use the mine cavity as a lower reservoir.

Dominion Energy elected to delay filing a preliminary permit application with FERC for the Bullitt Mine site pending the results of an on-going study. If the mine is selected for a pumped storage facility, Dominion Energy would file with FERC next year.

Dominion Energy stated that it may also pursue other potential sites as the process continues.
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