Dominion sells West Virginia gas operation News

Dominion Energy this week sold its West Virginia gas utility, Hope Gas, for $690 million.

The buyer is Ullico Inc., a labor union-owned insurance and investment company.

Dominion will use proceeds to pay off some of its debt.

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Hope Gas, which Dominion acquired through its 2000 purchase of the giant Consolidated Natural Gas, got its start nearly 125 years ago as the Flaggy Meadow Gas Company, operating one of the nation’s first interstate pipelines for $690 million.

But the sale hasn’t changed Dominion’s view about its other gas utilities — it serves 1.2 million gas customers in Ohio; 1.1 million in Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho; 600,000 in North Carolina; and 400,000 in South Carolina.

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Nor does it signal a change in its view that natural gas will continue to play a role at its Virginia electric utility.

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Hope Gas is much smaller than Dominion’s other gas companies, serving 111,000 West Virginia customers, and is a stand-alone utility not closely linked to any of Dominion five primary energy markets: Virginia, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah and North Carolina.

But it fits with Ullico’s Hearthstone Utilities subsidiary, which focuses on standalone gas utilities, owning companies in Indiana, Maine, Montana, North Carolina and Ohio.

Dominion has said it’s aiming for net zero carbon emissions across all its operations, including natural gas, by 2050.

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It aims to get there in part by investing in methane reduction and technology to blend hydrogen into natural gas.

Virginia’s clean energy act requires its Dominion Energy Virginia electric utility to hit the net zero goal by 2045.

To get to this goal, it is building and buying renewable energy facilities and seeking to relicense its nuclear power plants in Surry and North Anna, which together produce nearly a third of the electricity its customers use.

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The company is investing $9.8 billion in a 176-turbine offshore wind farm, capable of powering as many as 660,000 homes, and planning to spend millions more acquiring solar facilities, batteries and other green technology.

The company also says it will continue to rely on gas to power some of its generating plants, especially those that can be turned on and off quickly to handle peak loads.

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