In the roundabout and vague language of Dominion VA Power, specifics are the only form of statements that can be trusted by this company. So when an employee of Dominion comments that Dominion “will continue evaluating transmission options to ensure the identification of the lowest cost alternative for bringing offshore wind electricity to consumers,” it sounds like a vortex of time has opened up for Dominion to cozy up to wind energy whenever they feel the urge (the quotation came as a response to a recently released report by AAB Power Systems Consulting that evaluated the “offshore transmission options to support future projects”).
The issue, then, isn’t whether wind energy is going to be built and used in Virginia; it’s a question of when. How many more years do Virginians have to wait for Dominion to find “the lowest cost alternative” before we begin to reap the noticeable benefits of offshore wind energy? Sure, the review process isn’t a simple one, but enough is enough, it’s time to start building wind energy for Virginia.
Some Virginians have worried about the higher initial costs of offshore wind energy, costs which the Department of Energy has estimated to amount to 24 cents per kilowatt hour. However, these costs do not take into account the health benefits that Virginians in particular will reap from an increasing reliance on offshore wind energy. If and when economists agree on a way to “cost” the health benefits from clean energy, the difference between the latter and fossil fuel energy costs will not seem so stark.
Virginians shouldn’t have to plead with their utility service to pick up the pace on investing in renewable energy. But the reality is that we have to continually remind Dominion that the health and wallets of Virginians are more important than their bottom line. On March 24 at 12PM, I hope to see you all at Virginia’s largest environmental protest outside of Dominion’s HQ in Richmond. Our individual actions can make a difference, and we’ll only know if we try.