( – promoted by lowkell)
Dominion Virginia Power just released its plan to meet the energy needs of its customers for the next 15 years and it definitely misses the mark. We at Chesapeake Climate Action Network had hoped that the company would create a clean energy vision for the commonwealth. Instead, this is a plan for the commonwealth’s continued dependence on fossil fuels, which means continuing our massive release of planet-heating emissions. While the plan does include the retirement of a couple of small coal-fired power plants, the company hopes that regulators will approve the construction of multiple natural-gas-fired power plants. If that natural gas comes from fracking, these brand new plants could have an even higher contribution to climate change than the 50-year-old plants they plan to retire.
Where the company really lags behind is offshore wind power, which could power hundreds of thousands of Virginia homes without releasing any type of pollution.
While the IRP acknowledges Virginia’s outstanding offshore wind energy resource, the advantages of offshore wind power and the governor and General Assembly’s support for offshore wind, ultimately it states:
Currently, offshore wind is one of the most expensive renewable generation resources. In order for the Company to develop offshore wind resources, costs must be competitive with other forms of conventional or renewable generation. The Company continues to pursue cost reduction efforts and to evaluate the development of offshore wind as a potential source for future generation.
Dominion is one of the most highly-regarded utility companies in the U.S., and the company should be leading on offshore wind energy, not following. The most effective way to reduce the cost of offshore wind power is for Dominion and other east coast utilities to commit to this new American energy source. Without large-scale plans to build offshore wind farms up and down the east coast, there won’t be enough turbine orders to jump start an American offshore wind industry. This means that U.S. offshore wind farms will continue to be built with expensive turbines imported from other countries and the cost will never come down.
In addition, while natural gas may be cheap now, its price has fluctuated greatly in the past and is expected to rise in the future. Wind, on the other hand, is a free natural resource. So building a wind farm includes no fuel price risk. We hope that the State Corporation Commission's review of the IRP will include long-term price stability, not just immediate fuel prices.