Starting today, Appalachian Voices and the Wise Energy for Virginia coalition are embarking on a statewide road tour to promote New Power for the Old Dominion, a commonsense campaign to change the direction of Virginia’s energy future.
Our events in Richmond and Charlottesville this week are the first stops on our tour where we’ll lay out the Wise Energy for Virginia coalition’s solution for a viable shift to clean energy in Virginia. It is a shift that Dominion Virginia Power, the commonwealth’s largest utility and the electric provider to a majority of Virginians, discounts in its recently released long-term planning report. The Dominion plan snubs energy efficiency and renewable energy in favor of additional nuclear power and new natural gas plants.
Dominion’s plan has token amounts of solar, and while it does not include significant wind, I realize it was written before Dominion’s successful bid for a potential 2,000-megawatt wind farm off Virginia’s gusty coast.*
Unfortunately for ratepayers, Dominion is continuing to prioritize the largest projects it can get approved. Whether it is a large offshore wind facility or the multiple natural gas plants included in the utility’s plan, the company likes to spend money. Because when Dominion spends big, the company and its shareholders receive a guaranteed rate of return well above what most folks see in their private investment portfolio.
Our plan, on the other hand, will meet growing energy needs while keeping rates low and providing clean energy that Virginians broadly support. It begins by calling for widespread utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs, which can be implemented for one-third less than what customers are currently paying for Dominion to generate that electricity with coal and natural gas. And, efficiency can eliminate the need for 3,000 megawatts of new power – more than the amount that would be generated by Dominion’s planned natural gas plants.
Here are a few other major differences between Dominion’s plan and ours:
1. Our plan is based on free fuel sources, unlike Dominion’s planned reliance on volatile natural gas prices and controversial uranium extraction.
2. Our plan produces no new carbon pollution, unlike Dominion’s reliance on carbon-emitting natural gas and methane-emitting fracking for natural gas.
3. Our plan focuses on solar and wind generation facilities that continue to fall in cost, unlike Dominion’s preference for nuclear, which gets more costly with each new project.
4. Our plan would result in 10,000 new jobs, unlike Dominion’s reliance on natural gas facilities that will employ only about 30 people each.
We invite you to learn more about our plan tonight in Richmond or Thursday in Charlottesville. You can read more on the coalition’s website and request an event in your own community.
*I applaud Dominion for the planned investment in wind and I urge them to develop it much more quickly than it seems they will. They have stated it will be a decade before the first phase of turbines is put in service.