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Frack Dominion; Natural Gas Pipelines Are Obsolete

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by Todd Smyth

Dominion Energy is setting Virginia up to fail — with fracked gas pipelines that are unnecessary, obsolete and will keep Virginia behind the rest of the world for many years to come. Natural gas may have been a good transition fuel at one time, but that transition is over. The tipping point has been crossed, in which cleaner alternatives like wind and solar either already are cheaper than natural gas, or are rapidly becoming cheaper than natural gas.

Cheapest electricity on the planet is Mexican wind power at 1.77¢/kWh
https://electrek.co/2017/11/16/cheapest-electricity-on-the-planet-mexican-solar-power/

Saudi Arabia setting solar pricing records at 1.79¢/kWh
https://electrek.co/2017/11/16/cheapest-electricity-on-the-planet-mexican-solar-power/

How can Tucson Electric (Arizona) get solar + storage for 4.5¢/kWh?
https://www.utilitydive.com/news/how-can-tucson-electric-get-solar-storage-for-45kwh/443715/

Virginia pays 11.47¢/kWh. Source: EIA Electric Power Monthly
https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=epmt_5_6_a

Several years ago, natural gas peaker plants were the best economic solution to retire old coal plants, but those peaker plants are disappearing faster than Blockbuster video stores or Kodak film. They are being replaced by newer, better and cheaper technology, namely wind, solar and energy storage, which also happen to be much cleaner for our environment. This will make the gas plants and the pipelines connected to them “stranded assets” (big waste of money — our money).

Gas fired power plants risk becoming stranded assets
https://www.consultancy.uk/news/13780/gas-fired-power-plants-risk-becoming-stranded-assets

California Targets PG&E Natural Gas Plants With Storage
https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/natural-gas-under-threat-california-pge-gas-plants-energy-storage#gs.K6TkKPE

New York sets bigger energy storage target than California
https://www.energy-storage.news/news/new-york-sets-bigger-energy-storage-target-than-california

The Energy Revolution of 2018: Electricity Storage – Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/baininsights/2018/02/01/the-energy-revolution-of-2018-electricity-storage/#4ff5c5c06208

Utility-scale wind and solar increasingly are less expensive than natural gas power plants. For peak demand, energy storage is about the same cost, but has better performance. In Virginia, Dominion Energy is using ratepayer money to build fracked gas pipelines that already are, or soon will be, obsolete. Plus, they are less secure than renewable energy and completely unnecessary for Virginia customers. Of course, there is no risk to Dominion because they are using our money. So why would a monopoly utility like Dominion Energy do this? For starters, monopolies hate competition.

if you’re used to being a monopoly, like most utilities are, then it comes as a shock when customers start to cut you out of the action.” — Bloomberg

A Little Fear and Loathing for Utilities
https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2016-06-13/mgm-wynn-ditch-nv-energy-as-utility-fear-and-loathing-grows

Two Pipeline Expansion Projects in Appalachia Indicate a Rush Toward Overbuilding
http://ieefa.org/two-pipeline-expansion-projects-appalachia-indicate-rush-toward-overbuilding/

As more companies, cities, and people figure out they don’t need giant monopoly utilities like Dominion, the utilities’ desperation will get ever more intense. Dominion needs a closed market with a large centralized grid – one it can control – in order to survive. This is what natural gas pipelines provide. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is moving to decentralized, renewable power generation for economic, environmental and national security reasons.

After the nuclear power plant accident at Fukushima exposed Japan’s old, centralized grid (similar to Virginia’s), Japan was forced to rethink and rebuild the way it produces power. Japan’s solution? Local generation and transmission. Dozens of Japanese cities will have their own micro-grids and decentralized renewable power generation to create self-sustaining systems, capable of producing an average of 25% of needed electricity. This is the right way to rebuild a modern smart grid – as opposed to Dominion Energy’s wrong way.

Quiet energy revolution underway in Japan as dozens of towns go off the grid
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-energy-revolution/quiet-energy-revolution-underway-in-japan-as-dozens-of-towns-go-off-the-grid-idUSKCN1BU0UT

Why have Fortune 500 companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft forced Dominion to provide them utility scale-solar with storage to meet their 100% renewable energy commitments? Don’t these companies have shareholders? Do they know something we don’t? Yes they do; namely, that the long term benefits of clean renewable energy make solar, wind, energy efficiency and energy storage the best choices for business today and in the future.

Facebook to Power Virginia Data Center With Dominion Solar Farms
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-05/facebook-to-power-virgina-data-center-with-dominion-solar-farms

Amazon, Dominion to build 5 new solar farms in Virginia
https://www.utilitydive.com/news/amazon-dominion-to-build-5-new-solar-farms-in-virginia/430794/

Microsoft partners with Virginia, Dominion on 20 MW solar project
https://techcrunch.com/2016/03/16/microsoft-partners-with-virginia-dominion-on-20-mw-solar-project/

Why do you think Microsoft recently made the largest corporate solar agreement in the U.S., in Virginia, but cut Dominion out completely?

Microsoft signed largest corporate solar deal in the U.S. (in Virginia)
http://ewn.co.za/2018/04/06/microsoft-just-signed-the-largest-corporate-solar-deal-in-us-history

Even Dominion’s own shareholders nearly forced their own company to make a global warming plan to meet the Paris Climate Agreement goals last year.

Dominion Energy shareholders nearly pass global warming resolution (2017)
http://pilotonline.com/business/consumer/dominion-energy-shareholders-nearly-pass-global-warming-resolution/article_253508a1-f9c3-597d-b09c-06618b828548.html

Virginia is ranked 38th in solar energy, with a “D” rating, and next-to-last in energy efficiency.  Meanwhile, our neighbors, Maryland and DC, are leaving Virginia in the dust. Maryland is already ranked 6th in solar, with an “A” rating. Maryland is planning to become number one, with a new, expanded tax credit for storage that makes almost every residential solar project affordable. Meanwhile here in Virginia, thanks to Dominion, we’ve got no tax credits, mandates, rebates, or exemptions for renewable energy to help us climb out of the hole we are already in.

Virginia is ranked 38th in Solar with a “D” Rating
https://solarpowerrocks.com/2017-state-solar-power-rankings/#VA

Dominion Ranked Second-Worst in US on Energy Efficiency
https://bluevirginia.us/2017/07/dominion-ranked-second-worst-us-energy-efficiency

Maryland ranked 6th in Solar, DC 9th, both with “A” ratings
https://solarpowerrocks.com/2017-state-solar-power-rankings/#MD

Maryland opens energy-storage tax credit program
https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2018/02/15/maryland-opens-energy-storage-tax-credit-program/

With the rest of the world moving away from natural gas, Dominion will have to make sure the gas is used in Virginia, where the company effectively owns and operates a majority of the state legislature. This will mean killing off or slow rolling the competition like wind, solar and energy storage. It also means that Virginia will fall behind the rest of the world in clean, renewable energy — and the many jobs that a clean energy transition would create. What is the solution to this problem? Make sure enough Virginia voters know that Dominion is ripping us off — and vote accordingly.  In short: “Frack Dominion!” Please tell everyone you know and also please share this post. Thanks.