Dominion Energy is asking Virginia regulators to approve its plans to extend the federal licenses of its Surry and North Anna nuclear plants, as well as an estimated $3.9 billion in costs to keep the workhorse facilities running past 2050.
Nuclear energy currently produces about a third of the electricity used by Dominion’s Virginia customers and is set to become even more critical as a source of baseload power as Virginia transitions away from fossil fuels under the Virginia Clean Economy Act.
The nuclear units are responsible for 90 percent of Dominion’s carbon-free generation in Virginia, said Mark Sartrain, Dominion’s vice president of nuclear engineering and fleet support, in testimony to the Virginia State Corporation Commission last week.
“As the company transitions away from certain fossil-fuel generating technologies to a more renewable portfolio, an underlying assumption of the company’s ability to comply with recent policy goals and mandates is that the nuclear generating units will continue to reliably serve customers well into the future,” Sartrain wrote. “The path to carbon-free generation depends on the continued service of the company’s nuclear fleet.”
Under the Virginia Clean Economy Act and other 2020 legislation authorizing the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a carbon cap-and-trade market, Virginia’s electric utilities must source all of their non-nuclear energy from renewables by 2050.
Federal regulators signed off on license extensions for the Surry units in May and are still reviewing North Anna’s extension applications, with a final decision expected in the second quarter of 2022.
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Read More: Dominion asks for state approval of plans to extend life of nuclear plants beyond 2050