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CCAN mounts a brilliant ad campaign against the fossil fuel Goliath...

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In what amounts to a brilliant frontal assault on Virginia's biggest greenhouse gas polluter, Dominion Virginia Power, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) proved yet again that Virginia's energy Goliath won't be able to stomp over Virginia's future forever.

As the world warms, Dominion Virginia Power seems as committed as ever to continue down its usual path of greenhouse gas intensive energy production. On Monday, Dominion took the steps necessary to "move forward" with its Dominion Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) liquefaction project. The price tag on this global warming nightmare is anywhere between $3.4 billion and $3.8 billion, according to an application submitted on Monday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

In their kind-heartedness, Dominion has chosen to build a 'relatively environmentally friendly' energy plant by selecting LNG. The fact remains, however, that LNG adds a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions, from the cradle to the grave, to the planet's atmosphere. **Cough, cough**

CCAN's latest ad reminds Virginians how ludicrous it is for Dominion Virginia Power to publicly present itself as 'environmentally friendly' or in touch with the demands of Virginians for clean energy. If Dominion spent half as much money actually investing in clean energy research and development and construction as it does with public relations activities to give itself an environmentally friendly pat on the back, Virginia would already be well on its way to averting a climate change induced environmental disaster.

Dominion’s Response to Citizen Criticism of 15-Year Energy Plan Only Reconfirms...

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In an attempt to defend its almost complete disregard of clean energy in its Integrated Resource Plan, Dominion VA Power made a number of arguments in its defense in a statement given to the Associated Press prior to a scheduled SCC hearing regarding its 15-year energy plan on Tuesday. First, Dominion emphasized that its 15-year plan is not "set in stone".  Dominion also cited its PROPOSED addition of 30 megawatts of solar power on leased commercial rooftops (this seems to me to be more of an argument against Dominion. 30 megawatts, really?). Thirdly, Dominion also pointed to its bids for leases to build wind farms off of Virginia's coast. All of these arguments need to be filed under the growing narrative of Dominion as big on words of good intention and woefully short on substantive action towards clean energy.

First, given Dominion's paltry baseline for renewable energy in 2026 (2.8%), any increase in their percentage of renewable energy in the years ahead would undoubtedly remain at unsatisfactory levels, at levels which would hardly put a dent in our state's greenhouse gas contributions.

Secondly, an extra 30 megawatts of solar power is not the large scale solar power that Virginians want and is therefore a moot defense. The primary reason that Virginians want clean energy is to stem the tide of climate change. 30 megawatts is hardly a drop in the pond and only illustrates either Dominions total lack of understanding of what Virginians are demanding or a blatant attempt to slow-walk clean energy in Virginia by continually PROPOSING (and sometimes constructing) small-scale clean energy projects to quell criticism of its policies.  

Virginians Connect the Dots Outside of Dominion’s HQ in Richmond

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On Saturday, concerned Virginians met in Richmond outside of Dominion Virginia Power's headquarters to take part in Climate Impacts Day, a global day of action bringing awareness to the issue of climate change.

Concerned Virginians also gathered in Blacksburg, Yorktown, Hampton, a Harrisonburg farmers market, local vineyards, and elsewhere to "connect the dots" between extreme weather events and climate change.

Environmental groups such as the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), the Sierra Club, 350.org, and many others also took part in this day of action as part of their mission to reign in the forces that are driving climate change.

One of the main forces driving climate change in Virginia has been Dominion Virginia Power, Virginia's largest utility. A look at Dominion's 2011 Integrated Resource Plan says it all.

Over the next 15 years, until 2026, Dominion intends to increase its renewable energy piece of its energy portfolio from 2.4% to 2.8%. That's 2.8% renewable energy by 2026. So where is the rest of Dominion's energy going to come from?

March to End Dominion’s Power Madness: March 24

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Fellow (Blue) Virginians and bloggers, did you know that Dominion Virginia Power is the largest non-party  political contributor to Virginia's candidates and committees? As such, Dominion has crafted energy policy in Virginia in its own image, an image that doesn't always reflect the interests of all Virginians under Dominion's umbrella.  For instance, Dominion was awarded $76 million  for meeting Virginia's weak renewable energy standard while literally generating ZERO wind and solar power in Virginia. There is clearly little benefit to rewarding Dominion to buy renewable energy from outside of the commonwealth when the renewable energy standard was constructed to create renewable energy  inside Virginia.

On top of that, Dominion executives plan to keep on developing fossil fuel power plants and ignoring renewable energy.  According to the company's 2011 Integrated Resource Plan, which looks 15 years into the future, they plan to still generate less than 3% renewable energy in 2026.

These are a few of the reasons why the Chesapeake Climate Action Network  along with other environmental groups is holding a rally and a march outside of Dominion's HQ in Richmond on March 24 at 12PM. On March 24, supporters of clean energy will meet at Kanawha Plaza  to march around Dominion VA Power's HQ and form a human chain. We will demand that Dominion invest in clean energy for VA's future now. There will also be world-renown and Virginia-based environmental speakers such as Phil Radford of Greenpeace USA and Mike Tidwell of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) who will discuss the need for clean energy in Virginia, the role of corporate money in politics, and how Virginia can become the example for clean energy use and construction. If you support clean energy, now is the time to come out and show it. This will be the biggest environmental rally in Virginia's history. I hope to see you all on March 24 and we can make history together!

New Dominion Study, Same Foot Dragging Results for Offshore Wind Power

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In the roundabout and vague language of Dominion VA Power, specifics are the only form of statements that can be trusted by this company. So when an employee of Dominion comments that Dominion "will continue evaluating transmission options to ensure the identification of the lowest cost alternative for bringing offshore wind electricity to consumers," it sounds like a vortex of time has opened up for Dominion to cozy up to wind energy whenever they feel the urge (the quotation came as a response to a recently released report by AAB Power Systems Consulting that evaluated the "offshore transmission options to support future projects").

The issue, then, isn't whether wind energy is going to be built and used in Virginia; it's a question of when. How many more years do Virginians have to wait for Dominion to find "the lowest cost alternative" before we begin to reap the noticeable benefits of offshore wind energy? Sure, the review process isn't a simple one, but enough is enough, it's time to start building wind energy for Virginia.  

Some Virginians have worried about the higher initial costs of offshore wind energy, costs which the Department of Energy has estimated to amount to 24 cents per kilowatt hour. However, these costs do not take into account the health benefits that Virginians in particular will reap from an increasing reliance on offshore wind energy.  If and when economists agree on a way to "cost" the health benefits from clean energy, the difference between the latter and fossil fuel energy costs will not seem so stark.

Virginians shouldn't have to plead with their utility service to pick up the pace on investing in renewable energy. But the reality is that we have to continually remind Dominion that the health and wallets of Virginians are more important than their bottom line. On March 24 at 12PM, I hope to see you all at Virginia's largest environmental protest outside of Dominion's HQ in Richmond. Our individual actions can make a difference, and we'll only know if we try.  

Dominion CEO recognizes need to decrease fossil fuel use while taking...

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The CEO of the Richmond, VA based Dominion Resources Inc., Tom Farrell, noted that any national energy strategy must decrease the use of fossil fuels during his Keynote Speech at CERAWeek 2012.

It's a relief that Mr. Farrell recognizes America's crushing reliance on energy sources that are wreaking havoc on our lungs and our climate.

What Mr. Farrell is really saying is that he and his company want to be at the head of this energy revolution, controlling the market share along with the profits. At least, this is what Dominion's Robber Baron past would lead one to conclude.  

Dominion Continues its Gassy Rampage with another Natural Gas Plant in...

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Dominion VA Power's most recent brilliant idea for turning Virginia into an energy independent Mecca that the world over can envy comes in the form of a $1.1 billion natural gas-fired power plant  in Southside Virginia.

If approved by Virginia's "regulators," that natural gas ship would start sailing (and polluting) in 2016.

While natural gas is a better energy alternative than the coal-fired power plants  at Dominion's Chesapeake Energy Center in Chesapeake and Yorktown Power Station that Dominion publicly announced it would close by 2016, natural gas is still a significant greenhouse gas threat and it's unclear how long natural gas can fill Virginia's energy needs in any meaningful way.

True energy independence is of course achieved through the use of solar and wind technology  to harness the Earth's natural sources of energy. So if Dominion VA Power is serious about energy independence, where are the $1.1 billion investments in these two energy sources?

 

HB 129, the Solar Bill, Killed by You Know Who

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Our old friends at Dominion VA Power, Appalachian Power, and Virginia's friendly power cooperatives were up to their old obstructionist antics again when one lobbyist from each of the three hulking dinosaurs effectively killed HB 129 (Electric Utilities; purchases from net metering sellers) until next session of the General Assembly. The main bone of contention/opposition on the part of Virginia's Goliath power distributors was the "deregulatory" nature of HB 129. Playing to the Senate Labor and Commerce committee's deepest fears, Dominion VA Power's veteran lobbyist opined that HB 129 would have opened another Pandora's Box of regulatory versus deregulatory struggles inside Virginia. Needless to say, had this primary argument not been made against allowing end users to use solar energy from energy suppliers not named Dominion VA Power, Appalachian Power, or one of Virginia's power cooperatives, some other clever argument would have been made to derail the effort.

The fact that Del. Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City), a Republican, introduced HB 129 in the House of Delegates  shows how overwhelmingly commonsensical Virginia's need for more solar power in general is. Even Senator Frank Wagner spoke up during the Labor and Commerce hearing on HB 129 to urge Virginia to finally move faster and more substantively towards solar power. You even heard the phrase "in the public interest" (Sen. John Edwards) when talking about HB 129 and the need for more renewable power in Virginia. Wow!  

Giving Dominion Credit Where Credit Is Due, but Not Where It...

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As you probably know, Blue Virginia - and RK before it - has not exactly been a big fan of Dominion Virginia Power. In fact, we're the ones who coined the slogan, "Dominion: Global Warming Starts Here." In general, I think it's fair to say that we look at anything and everything Dominion does with skepticism at best. Still, there are times when it's important to give credit where credit is due.

In this case, as you can see from the graphic, Dominion Virginia Power's emissions of major pollutants - SO2, NOx, and Mercury (Hg) have been plummeting, and are forecast to continue plummeting in coming years. Now, obviously, a lot of that is due to Dominion simply complying with what the law makes them do, while another part is due to Dominion switching away from dirty coal to cheaper - and also cleaner - natural gas. In addition, I'd really like to see a similar graph for what's arguably the most important emission of all - carbon dioxide, which is contributing to potentially catastrophic global warming. Still, what this graph displays is progress, and I think it's fair to give Dominion at least some credit for that.

Dominion VA Power Doesn’t Get It: Virginians Want Clean Energy Now!

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In Virginia, our legislators appear more than willing to reward energy companies for not following the spirit of the law. Enter Dominion Virginia Power, a behemoth energy company in Virginia who will be receiving a $76 million performance incentive from rate payers over the next two years. Clearly, these actions of Dominion don't correspond with the spirit of Virginia's renewable energy law.

Who's paying for this bonus, anyways? Dominion's residential customers are paying for this bonus while Dominion continues to fill the commonwealth's air with pollutants from natural gas, biomass, coal, and well, you name it. The situation could not be anymore backwards.

Dominion VA Power has stated publicly that it wishes to move in the direction of clean energy. But actions speak louder than words and so far Dominion has an appallingly dismal record of sticking to its public declarations. Would you trust a compulsive liar with safeguarding your energy future?

The bottom line is it's all about the revenue for Dominion. Until our legislators in the VA General Assembly and the executive force Dominion VA Power to finally cede to the spirit of the renewable energy law in Virginia, Dominion will continue to thwart our laws while it further taxes its already financially-strapped customers (and makes them less healthy).