Dominion Virginia Power Does Something Good for a Change?!?

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    As you all probably know, we haven’t exactly been big fans of Dominion Virginia Power here at Blue Virginia, or back on Raising Kaine/RK for that matter. In fact, we even designed a bumper sticker that reads, “Dominion: Global Warming Starts Here.” So, I hope you’re all sitting down as I say something good – actually two things – about Dominion! 🙂

    First, I received an email yesterday from my friends at CCAN (Chesapeake Climate Action Network) entitled, “Dominion Virginia Power Announces Offshore Wind Transmission Study; Offshore Wind Advocates Applaud, Push for More.” The full email is on the “flip,” but the key point is that “Virginia’s environmental groups applaud Dominion’s decision to study development of an offshore wind transmission line connected to Virginia Beach.” They also “encourage Dominion to swiftly move forward and develop offshore wind energy for Virginia.” I completely agree, and strongly urge Dominion to follow through on this, as rapidly as possible!

    Second, a bit earlier this morning, I received a press release (also see on the “flip”) from Dominion Power that I thought for sure was an April Fool’s joke! The title is “Dominion Virginia Power Plans to Convert Three Coal-Fired Stations to Renewable Biomass.” After I realized it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke, visions of Dominion shutting down the Wise County coal-fired power plant started dancing through my head. But no, it couldn’t be THAT good. Still, it’s encouraging to see that Dominion “is planning to convert three Virginia power stations from using coal to biomass, a renewable energy source.”  I’m also very happy to hear that these conversions will produce upwards of “150 megawatts of renewable energy” (relatively small, but it’s an improvement), and also will “provide environmental and customer benefits and generate up to $350 million for their local economies over the next 30 years.” So, with that – and also with the cavegat that we’ve got to see follow through, and that there’s a HUGE amount more that needs to be done to clean up Dominion’s act – here are some words I hope I can repeat more often here at Blue Virginia: good job, Dominion Power!

    RICHMOND-In response to Dominion Virginia Power’s announcement today regarding a planned study focusing on a potential offshore wind transmission line, VA4Wind had the following statement:

    “Virginia’s environmental groups applaud Dominion’s decision to study development of an offshore wind transmission line connected to Virginia Beach. We strongly support the development of Virginia’s offshore wind power potential to bring clean energy and good jobs to the commonwealth, and encourage Dominion to swiftly move forward and develop offshore wind energy for Virginia.

    Harnessing Virginia’s offshore wind power potential could provide enough energy to power 700,000 homes and create more than 10,000 jobs. As the state’s largest power provider, Dominion sits in an ideal position to champion offshore wind in Virginia.

    Dominion can’t develop Virginia’s offshore wind industry single-handedly. Governor McDonnell should aspire to make Virginia “the Clean Energy Capital of the East Coast,” and this cannot be accomplished without the rapid, purposeful development of Virginia’s offshore wind resources. Up and down the east coast, governors of other states are aggressively pursuing offshore wind and the jobs that come with it, while the process in Virginia creeps along slowly.

    We encourage Dominion Virginia Power and Governor McDonnell to work together to harness this vast renewable resource for the people of Virginia.”

    Dominion Virginia Power Plans to Convert Three Coal-Fired Stations to Renewable Biomass

    — Low-cost conversions provide strong customer value

    — Additional regional benefits would exceed $350 million

    — Proposal would lead to 150 megawatts of renewable energy

    — Virginia Gov. McDonnell says plan creates good jobs in the Commonwealth

    RICHMOND, Va., April 1, 2011 PRNewswire — Dominion Virginia Power, a subsidiary of Dominion (NYSE: D), is planning to convert three Virginia power stations from using coal to biomass, a renewable energy source. The conversions would provide environmental and customer benefits and generate up to $350 million for their local economies over the next 30 years.

    The power stations in Altavista, Hopewell and Southampton County are identical and went into operation in 1992. If the conversions are approved by local governments, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia State Corporation Commission, they could begin burning biomass in 2013.

    The total economic impact over the 30-year life of the stations would be more than $350 million, including $30 million in local taxes, $180 million for the creation of more than 300 hundred jobs in the forestry and trucking industries and about $120 million paid to the 90 employees who would work at the stations.

    The fuel switch would reduce nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, mercury and particulate emissions, and all of the stations would meet stringent new emissions standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    Dominion Generation CEO David Christian said, “Our proposal to convert these units from coal to biomass provides customers with economical electricity, delivers environmental benefits and takes advantage of a renewable, low-cost fuel source.”

    Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said, “Conversion of these units to biomass creates jobs and generates tax revenues in a manner that will have a positive impact on the environment. The majority of the biomass product being used – wood slash – is typically left on the ground after timber or logging operations are complete.   So, the state is now better utilizing a product that would normally go to waste.   The projects are reflective of the ‘all of the above’ approach we need to take when it comes to energy production in the Commonwealth.  They are essential to expanding our alternative energy portfolio and closing our import gap, not to mention creating good jobs here in the Commonwealth.”

    Dominion plans to meet the state’s voluntary Renewable Portfolio Standard, which calls for 15 percent of the company’s generation to be from renewable resources by 2025. The company successfully met the 2010 milestone of 4 percent.

    Each of these units can currently produce 63 megawatts of electricity of peaking power, running only when demand is at its highest. When converted, they would generate 50 megawatts each, but operate essentially all of the time. Together, these stations would provide electricity to about 37,500 homes.

    The stations would obtain most of  their fuel from the waste wood left from timbering operations and would comply with a Virginia law regulating the use of biomass for electric generation. Dominion will also be adhering to its allocated cap of 1.11 million tons per year of green wood chips and related tree materials.

    Dominion is one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of approximately 27,600 megawatts of generation, 11,000 miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipeline and 6,100 miles of electric transmission lines.  Dominion operates the nation’s largest natural gas storage system with 947 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves retail energy customers in 14 states. For more information about Dominion, visit the company’s website at www.dom.com

    SOURCE Dominion Virginia Power

    • True or false: Dominion Virginia Power is more progressive on energy than Dick Saslaw’s Virginia State Senate?

    • NWVirginian

      The best way to get Dominion to “clean up its act” is to make it in their interest to do so.  Dominion is fuel-neutral – they’ll do what’s in their shareholders best financial interest.  The real choice on this matter belongs not with Dominion – but with policy makers.

      If a RPS mandate is not going to happen in VA – then let’s get a nationwide RPS – Now!