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A Few Examples Dominion Energy Should Follow…but Probably Won’t Unless Forced to Do So

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Dominion Energy is an arrogant, wealthy, centrally-planned, state-protected/coddled, corrupting, polluting monopoly monstrosity. For more on the corrupting part, see Vivian Thomson’s superb, must-read book, Climate of Capitulation, which among other things focuses on “the outsized power of the commonwealth’s largest utility, Dominion Energy, over Virginia politicians and regulators.”

Clearly, this well-researched, authoritative book has Dominion worried, as the over-the-top, near-hysterical, definitely-laughable response by Dominion’s “sponsored” blog demonstrates. [note: the brilliant Peter Galuszka has a spot-on comment in response to this piece — “Prof. Thomson has really got you hot and bothered. I agree with Steve, why are you so worked up about the idea that Big Energy has a Big Influence in Virginia politic? Did you get a coded message from Dominion Energy’s headquarters? Did the teletype in your basement office clatter to life suddenly in the middle of the night?” LOL, so true.]

Anyway, Dominion is probably hopeless, but just in case anyone there has a brain or conscience, they might want to pay attention to what other utilities are doing around the country. For instance (bolding added by me for emphasis):

  • According to this post at Yale Environment 360, “a few utilities — most notably, in New York, California, Hawaii, and Minnesota — are taking tantalizing first steps into the new realm of distributed, or decentralized, electricity generation.” And, as much as Dominion remains in deep denial, the reality is that “[e]verything about utilities, from their rate structures to their business models to their corporate cultures, is on the cusp of change.”
  • And from that same article: “New York’s Public Service Commission has crafted the most ambitious of state renewable energy regulatory shifts. Its Reforming the Energy Vision, or REV, has begun moving away from typical utility compensation schemes including net metering toward programs that reward innovation.” Why isn’t Virginia developing its own version of “REV?” For an answer to that question, again, do the opposite of what Dominion wants and read Climate of Capitulation.
  • From Climate Progress, this is fascinating news from Republican-dominated Florida, and from a utility that’s been historically skewed towards fossil fuels (like Dominion) but is changing: “This week, Duke Energy Florida announced that it will terminate all plans to build its Levy Nuclear Project. And as part of a deal with the Florida Public Service Commission, the company will instead invest $6 billion in solar energy, smart meters, and grid modernization as well as electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and a battery storage pilot program.”
  • More good news, from yet another utility that’s been heavy on the dirty generating capacity (coal in Xcel Energy’s case): “Xcel Energy on Tuesday continued its shift away from coal, announcing an agreement to retire two of its three coal-burning units at the Comanche Generating Station in Pueblo while adding substantially more wind, solar and natural gas generation. Xcel Energy will request competitive bids before the end of the year for 1,000 megawatts of additional wind, 700 megawatts of solar and 700 megawatts of natural gas power generation under its ‘Colorado Energy Plan.” How about a “Virginia Energy Plan” that pushes aggressively for clean energy and for ditching fossil fuel generating capacity as quickly as possible? Oh yeah, there’s that Climate of Capitulation again.
  • Finally, Dominion should get a clue from recent court cases that are proving, conclusively, that new natural gas pipelines are a horrible idea. For instance, see New York denies gas pipeline permit for CPV power plant over climate concerns (“The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has rejected a natural gas pipeline that consumer advocates say would have threatened upstate residents’ health, water quality and communities, citing climate change concerns.”). Sound familiar? If not, it should, as Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality faces the same exact choice right now — and should do the same thing New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation did.
  • Also see Climate change impacts of gas pipelines need study, court ruling says: “Two controversial natural gas pipelines proposed for West Virginia could face additional scrutiny because of a new federal court ruling that mandates a more detailed review of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with such projects.” I mean, that alone should kill any new natural gas pipelines if the science is simply taken seriously and acted upon.
  • And see this article , which is HIGHLY relevant to the fight here in Virginia over Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline monstrosities: “Fossil fuel foes are claiming victory after a federal appeals court on Friday upheld New York’s move to block a federally permitted interstate natural gas pipeline that failed to meet state water quality standards. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation acted properly in 2016 when it denied Constitution Pipeline a Section 401 certificate under the U.S. Clean Water Act, effectively vetoing the project, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. The judicial review ‘carries nationwide implications, as it will invariably influence states’ decisions to block pipelines under the Clean Water Act across the country,’ said the Natural Resources Defense Council in a statement.”

Now, I don’t expect Dominion Energy to change its dirty (in both senses – polluting and corrupt) and start acting like a responsible, non-sociopathic corporate citizen overnight. But perhaps a combination of economic reality and public pressure might slow, tortuously force this corporate bad actor to start mending its ways?

  • A_Siegel

    Dominion could boost profitabillty, boost VA’s economy, create jobs while going green.

    Here are some examples;

    * Promote power shifting: Support drive for electric vehicles, selling more electrons while driving down pollution (http://getenergysmartnow.com/2015/11/28/growing-dutch-electric-vehicle-fleet-not-driving-rotterdam-coal-use/) and oil use.
    * Drive offshore wind development with Hampton Roads as key hub for entire east coast: Rather than build pipelines, build offshore wind with massive job creation by making VA a leading center for offshore wind not just in the US but globally.
    * Aggressive action as “energy services corporation” to help local governments, businesses, and homeowners become more energy efficient while sharing the ‘cost savings’ for higher profits than Dominion receives within its regulated services.
    Etc …
    Going / staying dirty and harming others is not even the highest profitability path.

  • Kindler

    Glad to hear about the new book – added to my reading list!