Coal, Generation, Natural Gas

Virginia Electric and Power coal plant to convert to natural gas

The Virginia State Corporation Commission on approved the conversion of Virginia Electric and Power’s Bremo coal plant to natural gas, with the conversion to be completed by July 1, 2014.

In August 2012, Virginia Electric and Power, a unit of Dominion, filed with the commission for approval and certification of the proposed conversion of Bremo Power Station, located in Fluvanna County.

Bremo has been in operation since 1931, and has two active units. It is the oldest coal-fired power plant operated by Dominion, according to the utility’s website.

Commercial operation of Unit 3, with net capacity of 71 MW, commenced in 1950. Unit 4, with net capacity of 156 MW, was put in commercial operation in 1958. Although they no longer operate as baseload units, Dominion Virginia Power told the commission that it has a continuing need for Bremo’s power generating capacity and energy.

According to the utility, conversion to natural gas operation will preserve 227 MW (net) of generating capacity. Columbia Gas of Virginia would extend a natural gas lateral from Dominion’s Bear Garden Generating Station on the south side of the James River to supply natural gas to Bremo, which is adjacent to the north bank of the river. Gas-fired operation at Bremo is planned to meet summer 2014 peak demand needs.

Commission again says no outside power bids were needed

Studies provided in the application show that the capital investment for the conversion, about $53.4 million (net of financing costs), is expected to provide significant customer benefits in comparison to building new generation or purchasing in the market. These studies lead the company to expect customer savings with a net present value of about $32 million when compared to building new generation.

It had come up, based on complaints from independent power producers, within the commission’s recent review of Dominion’s gas-fired Brunswick County greenfield plant project that a prior commission approval of a Dominion integrated resource plan (IRP) indicated the company should consider taking outside bids when planning new self-built capacity. But the commission in the Brunswick County approval said, and reiterated in the Bremo approval, that this was more a suggestion than a mandate.