On June 4, Dominion Virginia Power hosted Appalachian Voices, the Sierra Club, and the Southern Environmental Law Center at the second stakeholder meeting in an ongoing series designed to increase the information shared between the utility and environmental groups.
The meeting was held in downtown Richmond, Va., on the banks of the James River, and adjacent to Belle Isle Park – the urban oasis that offers trails and river recreation for tens of thousands. It was an ironic meeting place for a utility that leaves heaps of toxic coal ash near communities and spews mercury and climate disrupting gases into our air.
We were ushered into a windowless conference room adorned with an expansive painting of power lines and received multiple apologies that we were unable to meet in the sprawling suburbs west of the city. Clearly, we value some things differently, and perhaps that is the purpose of these meetings – not to agree, but to understand.
And maybe I understand them a bit better now.
Dominion appears to believe in the now – not the potential. When the utility asked last year to build natural gas plants, it was because the fuel was cheap. A year later, however, Dominion is asking for a fuel factor rate increase based on its poor foresight of rising natural gas prices, a shift that it presents as being a complete surprise.