Wednesday, July 24, 2019
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Dominion Virginia Power Does Something Good for a Change?!?

As you all probably know, we haven't exactly been big fans of Dominion Virginia Power here at Blue Virginia, or back on Raising Kaine/RK for that matter. In fact, we even designed a bumper sticker that reads, "Dominion: Global Warming Starts Here." So, I hope you're all sitting down as I say something good - actually two things - about Dominion! :)

First, I received an email yesterday from my friends at CCAN (Chesapeake Climate Action Network) entitled, "Dominion Virginia Power Announces Offshore Wind Transmission Study; Offshore Wind Advocates Applaud, Push for More." The full email is on the "flip," but the key point is that "Virginia's environmental groups applaud Dominion's decision to study development of an offshore wind transmission line connected to Virginia Beach." They also "encourage Dominion to swiftly move forward and develop offshore wind energy for Virginia." I completely agree, and strongly urge Dominion to follow through on this, as rapidly as possible!

Second, a bit earlier this morning, I received a press release (also see on the "flip") from Dominion Power that I thought for sure was an April Fool's joke! The title is "Dominion Virginia Power Plans to Convert Three Coal-Fired Stations to Renewable Biomass." After I realized it wasn't an April Fool's joke, visions of Dominion shutting down the Wise County coal-fired power plant started dancing through my head. But no, it couldn't be THAT good. Still, it's encouraging to see that Dominion "is planning to convert three Virginia power stations from using coal to biomass, a renewable energy source."  I'm also very happy to hear that these conversions will produce upwards of "150 megawatts of renewable energy" (relatively small, but it's an improvement), and also will "provide environmental and customer benefits and generate up to $350 million for their local economies over the next 30 years." So, with that - and also with the cavegat that we've got to see follow through, and that there's a HUGE amount more that needs to be done to clean up Dominion's act - here are some words I hope I can repeat more often here at Blue Virginia: good job, Dominion Power!

Possibility of Wind Farm to Ruin Christmas

The concerns of nearby residents are one of many things that need to be considered when deciding where to put a wind farm. But fears in Virginia's Tazewell County seem to be getting a little ... well, exaggerated. Here's a recent column from the local paper:
While Christmas stories fill the season with hope and love, there is always a story about the Grinch who stole Christmas. With Dominion Resources recent announcement that it is acquiring 100 percent ownership of a 2,600-acre tract of land on East River Mountain for the purpose of developing the proposed Bluestone River Wind Farm, the Grinch is back — at least in the opinion of area people who oppose the windmills for many reasons.
Yeah, you remember the Grinch? And that Dr. Seuss story about how he tried to build a $200 million project in Whoville that would deliver $10 million in local tax revenue & $10 million in related development? THE NERVE.

"Many reasons" looks more like reason being supplanted by the fear of something new. Residents say they worry about property value, but even the National Association of Realtors says wind farm impact on property values is minimal (if existent at all). Residents express concern about unsightliness, but take a look at how the windmills would look in these Dominion projections:

How Few Jobs Will Wise County Coal Plant Create?

Dominion Virginia Power is spending $1.8 billion dollars worth of your electric bills to build a dirty coal-fired power plant in Wise County. How many jobs will that investment of our money deliver? Shockingly few, according to the Virginia Mining Association (PDF):
At the end of July, there were about 1,800 men and women employed in the construction of the 585-megawatt power station. The work force included about 600 people from the local area, accounting for 33.4 percent of total employment. The local area is defined as being within a 50-mile radius of the town of St. Paul, with Wise, Russell and Scott counties accounted for the majority of the local hires. Additionally, the staff that will operate the power station is being formed and trained. After Oct. 4 operations employment will stand at 34 with half of those hires coming from the local area.
Well hey, that's only $106 million of our money per permanent job for local residents. What a bargain!

Meanwhile, a Virginia State Corporation Commission analyst has testified (PDF) that, because the higher rates needed to pay for it, the plant will cost Virginia 1,474 jobs.

Now, apologists for this terrible deal will say, "But they need every job they can get in Wise County!" By that rationale, why bother actually building this polluting plant? As the Chesapeake Climate Action Network has pointed out, we could pay 75 Wise County residents $100,000 per year and give the county $6 million a year for the next 133 years with the $1.8 billion it will take to build the plant. And in that scenario, we wouldn't have to deal with the 5.4 million tons of carbon dioxide, thousands of tons of other air pollutants & dozens of pounds of mercury the plant will release.

All in all, a terrible deal for Virginia's economy & environment.