New Power for the Old Dominion

Aug 27, 2013

On September first, Dominion Power is required to submit a report to the state, explaining how it will provide electricity over the next fifteen years, but even before that happens, a coalition of environmental groups is demanding the utility use more sustainable energy sources to generate power. 

Four environmental groups say they’re unhappy with the direction Dominion Power is moving – with steady or increased reliance on natural gas, coal and nuclear technology, so they’re launching a campaign called New Power for the Old Dominion.

Angela Navarro, a staff attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, attacks Dominion’s Integrated Resource Plan.

“Their most recent IRP, which was released in 2012, essentially did not include any investments in off-shore wind.  It included very modest increases over the next 15 years  in land-based winds, and even more modest increases in solar power.”

So the SELC, the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network hired three independent consultants to come up with another approach for Dominion – one that would have the utility generating 12% of its power from renewable sources by 2027, reducing demand by 10% thru conservation, and spending less money than it will cost to build a couple of natural gas plants Dominion has on the drawing board.

“What our report analyzes is where Dominion currently is, what their resource plan currently looks like which is over two-thirds fossil-fuel fired generation and where they could be, and what they could achieve at a cost-effective level, so it’s basically saying, ‘These are the things that you guys need to start taking into consideration.  We want more clean energy in the state.  Here’s a report that shows it’s cost effective, that it’s reliable, that it’s safe, and that you guys can start doing it now.”

The report scolds Dominion for failing to put more emphasis on conservation.  The state set a goal to reduce demand by 10% between 2006 and 2022, but Dominion predicts its energy efficiency programs will cut demand by less than five percent.   The environmentalists say Dominion’s strategy is risky, since coal and gas prices could rise, and their report notes Dominion has given no thought to the possibility that government may soon begin to reward those using renewable energy sources and fine companies still reliant on fossil fuels. .