Home Energy and Environment Intriguing Move by Dominion Virginia Power?

Intriguing Move by Dominion Virginia Power?

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I’m not completely sure exactly what to make of this, and obviously I’m deeply skeptical of Dominion Virginia Power, but I find it potentially intriguing nonetheless.

Dominion Virginia Power said Thursday it is offering to close a small West Virginia coal-fired power station when it opens its larger natural-gas fired power station in northwestern Virginia, saying the move would mean cleaner air and help serve the region’s growing energy needs.

Richmond-based Dominion Resources Inc. said under an agreement with the National Park Service and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, it would close its 74-megawatt North Branch Power Station in Bayard, W.Va., when the proposed Warren County Power Station near Front Royal begins operations by early 2015. Employees at the North Branch facility would be transferred to nearby Mt. Storm Power Station.

Emissions credits from the West Virginia station would help mitigate emissions from the new power station.

The question is, why’s Dominion proposing this, and why now? I’m not sure, but it’s worth looking into further. Also, should I read Dominion’s statement, which refers to “cleaner-burning natural gas,” as an (indirect) admission by Dominion that yes, indeed, coal-fired power is dirty, nasty stuff? Let’s hope so. The fact is, power companies like Dominion do not have to be the enemy of those of us who care about the environment. In fact, here’s a deal: if Dominion wants to start shutting down coal-fired power plants, going all-out on energy efficiency, investing in “smart meters” and “smart grid” technologies, moving into solar/wind/other renewables, etc., then I’ll be one of their biggest fans. 🙂 Until then, however, the jury is very much out on this company, but I’m all ears.

P.S. Also recall that in 2009, Dominion’s President/Chairman/CEO Thomas Farrell testified to Congress about the importance of “ensur[ing] that U.S. climate policy is successful in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while also addressing the cost implications to consumers.” At the time, Farrell assumed that there would be “a federal GHG cap-and-trade program,” and seemed to be trying to figure out the best way to work with it. Was that for real? And what about now, given the demise of cap and trade? It will be interesting to keep an eye on Dominion to see where it intends to go regarding clean energy, energy efficiency, and environmental issues in coming months and years. I’ll be watching.

  • blue bronc

    Getting rid of nasty coal means getting rid of continuing nags.  And, natural gas is a higher profit. They add the cost of the new units to what is charged to the consumer, and they have lower court costs.  

  • libra

    some people get to have a cake and eat it too; it seems to be Dominion’s turn 🙂

    Bigger profits from a larger plant, closing a (small) plant that gave them grief and all under the self-righteous mantle of “for the common good”… an all-around win for Dominion, no?

    Lowkell, since you promise to be watching… Please watch to see if a)they do transfer the people from the W VA plant to the new one and, b) if they do do it, how long will those people work at the new plant before they’re canned. I smell a subterfuge but then I’m feeling exceedingly “Marplish” today.  

  • New Clean Air Act regulation of carbon pollution by the EPA will start taking effect next year. If I were Dominion I’d be wondering how those regulations will affect existing & planned coal plants, and wishing I had the certainty cap & trade would’ve provided. Thanks again for opposing that, Sen. Webb.