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Dominion, Leaving a Clean Energy Economy Behind

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Over the past few months, multiple events have demonstrated how Virginia is being left behind in an emerging clean energy economy, and have put the burden of this failure squarely on Dominion Virginia Power.

Today, Dominion will host the first in a series of stakeholder meetings to prepare for the filing of its 2013 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), a long-term plan presented to the State Corporation Commission (SCC) outlining how Dominion proposes to provide reliable, energy to its customers for the next 15 years.

Dominion’s 2011 IRP outlined almost no renewable energy additions in Virginia in the preferred plan. That plan included no wind power and only 33 megawatts (MW) of solar power to come online in Virginia by 2027. That is less than one percent of the 5,075 MW of proposed new fossil fuel facilities that dominate the plan. The 2012 IRP submitted on September 1st increased the Virginia-made clean energy portion of the plan to just under 300 MW, or a mere 1.5 percent of Dominion’s total energy portfolio of 19,351 MW. Now, they’re starting to put together the 2013 IRP, and Virginians can’t afford more of the same outdated thinking.

Dominion’s failure to invest in clean energy is holding Virginia back. The state is being outpaced by our Mid-Atlantic neighbors on clean energy, losing good clean energy jobs and putting our kids at greater risk from respiratory illness from air pollution. North Carolina has one of the fastest growing green jobs sectors in the nation. New Jersey already has more than 800 MW of solar power installed with more planned, and Maryland has one of the nation’s strongest energy efficiency programs with a goal of 15% reductions by 2015.  

In contrast, Virginia’s weak and voluntary renewable standard allows Dominion to collect $76 million in a customer-funded bonus for spending its money on a minimal amount of WWII-era hydro and dirty out-of-state biomass plants. This rip-off was the focus of a recent week-long protest outside Dominion’s headquarters in Richmond.

We know Dominion can do better for its customers than sending ratepayer money and jobs out of state to outdated facilities. Instead, with a plan to develop 3,000 MW of clean wind and solar power in Virginia by 2020, Dominion could meet its renewable energy goals in the state, offset the need to build new fossil fuel plants and power over 700,000 homes while creating thousands of good new jobs for Virginians.

The U.S. has one of the largest, fastest growing wind markets in the world, creating a great opportunity for the states that invest in both wind manufacturing and installation, and the U.S. solar industry just had its second best quarter on record earlier in 2012. Just last week, an industry report released during the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Offshore Wind Conference in Hampton Roads stated that, “large-scale development of wind power off the Mid-Atlantic coast would create more than 70,000 jobs from New York to Virginia…have a combined economic impact for the states of $19 billion…and would be realized over a 10-year build out of the offshore industry.”

Virginia’s families can’t afford to get left behind as the nation moves towards clean energy. Dominion Virginia Power should be taking steps now to transform our state into an American clean energy leader with a serious commitment to wind and solar power right here in Virginia. Investing in 3,000 MW of locally installed wind and solar would meet Dominion’s renewable energy commitment to its customers, clean up our air, create jobs and boost our local economies. Over the last few weeks, advocacy groups have turned up the pressure on Dominion’s executives, but Dominion has yet to take responsibility for bringing Virginia into the 21st century.

The time has come for Dominion customers from across the state to support healthier communities and families for Virginia by calling on Dominion to significantly increase its commitment to Virginia-made clean energy such as wind, solar and energy efficiency.