Aside from working to corrupt Virginia’s state government, bizarrely refusing to speak with the Virginia Mercury, engaging in sleazy “self-dealing,” pushing a massive new fracked-gas pipeline even as the company *claims* it wants to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, obstructing progress for many years on moving towards a clean energy economy, ripping off ratepayers, etc., Dominion Energy has also been utterly *atrocious* when it comes to energy efficiency. That latter point is a big part of the reason why “Virginians pay the 7th highest power bills in the nation, according to the United States Energy Information Administration.”
How abysmally bad is Dominion when it comes to energy efficiency? According to a brand-new report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Dominion is just about the worst in the country. Check out the gory details, below. First, Table ES1 finds that, out of the 52 utilities ACEEE looked on its 2020 Utility Energy Efficiency Scorecard, Dominion ranks third-to-last, clocking in at a pathetic, disgraceful #50.
As you can see – and in stark contrast to the Top 10 utilities in the country, which score in the 65%-92% range on ACEEE’s scorecard (which “covers 20 metrics…that…reflect utility performance…across three categories…Quantitative energy efficiency savings and spending performance…Energy efficiency program offerings…Enabling mechanisms for energy efficiency”) – Dominion manages to accumulate just 14% of total possible points…the dregs of the dregs, basically, when it comes to U.S. power utilities, certainly when it comes to energy efficiency. Heck, Dominion is even one of the worst utilities in the *Southeast*, which is the worst region of the country when it comes to utilities’ energy efficiency.
I mean, you really have to work at being this pathetically bad…and yes, Dominion *has* worked at it, ensuring that – at least to date – Virginia’s legislature has not passed either a serious, mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard OR a serious, mandatory Energy Efficiency Standard. In short, Dominion’s investment in buying up the levers of power in Virginia has paid of handsomely for Dominion executives and shareholders, but has harmed everyone else in the Commonwealth, particularly lower-income people, the environment, etc.
How do state policies – or lack thereof – translate into energy efficiency success or failure? As ACEEE explains:
“All of the top 10 utilities in this report are located in states that also rank among the top 13 in ACEEE’s 2019 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Policies in these states―such as energy efficiency resource standards (EERS) and financial opportunities for utilities to maintain and increase revenues while delivering efficiency―are important in driving performance.”
And Virginia’s policies, at least to date, have mostly been abysmal in this regard. Perhaps that will change with the passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), but even then, we’ll still need to come back in future years to tighten things up even further, including more “decoupling” of Dominion’s revenues from how much electricity it produces…as opposed to how efficient it is.
Finally, why does energy efficiency matter? ACEEE explains it very well (bolding added by me for emphasis):
“Energy efficiency is a clean and flexible grid resource that brings substantial benefits to the electric utility system. The need for robust energy efficiency programs is growing with advances in technology, an increasing focus on mitigating climate change, and more distributed energy resources coming online. These programs play a key role in eliminating energy waste; while some saved more and many saved less, the utilities covered in the 2020 Utility Scorecard saved an average of about 1% of their sales through more than 900 energy efficiency programs. By reducing energy consumption, utilities can delay or avoid the need to build new infrastructure like power plants and distribution assets. They can also lower wholesale prices for electricity and reduce the need for electricity from other sources such as natural gas, especially when efficiency is deployed in conjunction with other clean energy resources (Relf and Baatz 2017; Molina 2019). These benefits reduce costs for all utility customers (Chernick and Plunkett 2014). Reducing energy consumption can also decrease harmful air pollutants associated with fossil fuel generation, including criteria pollutants such as ozone, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter that cause asthma and other respiratory conditions (Hayes and Kubes 2018). Efficiency has the potential to cut US greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050 (Nadel and Ungar 2019).”
With that, here’s the ACEEE scorecard, with Dominion disgracing Virginia yet again…