Conservation groups call on Virginia utilities to expand clean power opportunities

newspaperDominion Virginia Power and Appalachian Power will file their 2015 Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) with the Virginia State Corporation Commission.  These plans chart the power companies’ paths over the next fifteen years.

The IRPs will indicate the commitment of these utilities to meeting the pollution reduction goals of the U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan—the landmark, federal proposal to cut carbon emissions from U.S. power plants that is linked to climate change and rising sea levels.

Based on past plans filed by the power companies, Virginia is already 79% of the way to meeting its Clean Power Plan target for 2030. Conservation groups are calling on the power companies to address the following three issues in the Integrated Resource Plans:

  • CARBON POLLUTION: Given pending regulations on carbon pollution over the next fifteen years, it is vital that power companies disclose their total, fleet-wide carbon emissions as of today and provide projections of total, fleet-wide emissions for 2030.  It is not enough to simply show a decrease in the rate of carbon emissions. Rather, communities and customers have a right to see actual, real-world reductions in total tons of carbon pollution emitted.
  • ENERGY EFFICIENCY:  Power companies need to provide customers with far more options to participate in energy efficiency programs, which will save money and cut pollution. Governor McAuliffe has adopted a goal of reducing energy consumption by 10% by 2020—but Dominion and Appalachian Power remain far off the pace necessary to achieve that target.
  • RENEWABLE ENERGY:  Power companies need to make significant, utility-scale investments in offshore wind and solar energy, while also opening up markets to allow customers to install their own solar-generating resources on their private property. Dominion has stated that building a new 20-megawatt solar farm in Remington, Virginia is beneficial for customers because it is cheaper than market purchases off of a grid that consists primarily of coal and natural gas. Yet all renewable resources in Dominion’s territory amount to just 2% of the company’s energy mix. Dominion’s Remington project equates to just one-tenth of 1% of Dominion’s 17,500-megawatt generation fleet.

“Expanding clean energy opportunities to meet the goals of the federal Clean Power Plan benefits Virginia families,” said Cale Jaffe, Director of the Virginia office of the Southern Environmental Law Center.  “Our analysis shows that simply expanding customer options on energy efficiency can help meet carbon reduction goals while also lowering household electric bills by up to 8%.”

“Customer demand in western Virginia for clean energy is growing fast, because it saves money and because of the benefits of cleaner air and preserved mountain landscapes. Appalachian Power can best serve its customers, and comply with the Clean Power Plan, by planning now for wind, solar and energy efficiency,” said Hannah Wiegard, Virginia Campaign Coordinator with Appalachian Voices.

“We need to see a serious plan from Dominion for cutting global warming pollution,” said Mike Tidwell, Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Virginia’s coastal communities already flood routinely due to fossil fuel pollution, while southwest Virginians await federal disaster loans to rebuild from extreme storms and flooding this winter. If Dominion were looking out for the best interests of Virginians, it would prioritize aggressive investments in solar, energy efficiency and offshore wind, and stop doubling down on dirty fracked gas.”

“As monopoly public utilities, Dominion and Appalachian Power have an obligation to provide power that is safe as well as affordable and reliable,” said Kate Addleson, Conservation Director for the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter.  “Burning fossil fuels no longer fits the bill. It’s time state regulators weigh the full costs of dirty energy sources, and require investments in renewable energy and efficiency-it is a win-win for the economy and the environment.”


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