Environmentalists clash with Dominion over the speed of its transition to green energy
One year ago, Dominion filed a report suggesting it could close down all coal-fired plants by 2030, but now the company says some of those plants may still be part of its future along with a brand new gas burning facility in Chesterfield. That did not sit well with Victoria Higgins director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network in Virginia.
“We were alarmed to see that several of the plans were completely out of alignment with our state’s climate laws, calling for up to nine gigawatts, which is just an enormous amount of methane gas fired generation, and then also declining to retire coal-fired units that had been previously scheduled for retirement.”
She blames Governor Glenn Youngkin for supporting the continued use of fossil fuels and notes that by law the utility can collect the cost of new gas plants from consumers along with a fair rate of return.
Her group commissioned a report on how the utility could meet the demand for power while closing its fossil fuel facilities.
“Adding battery storage at existing facilities and more aggressively expanding solar energy, increasing our investment in energy efficiency.”
Dominion says it is committed to the green energy transition.
“We’re building the largest offshore wind project in the entire country," says spokesman Aaron Ruby. "We have the second largest solar fleet, and it’s growing rapidly. We’re also pioneering long duration battery storage.”
But he says fossil fuels will still be needed to meet increased demand – driven by electric cars and data centers.
“Electric demand in Virginia is going to double in the next 154 years.”
And since wind and solar are not constant sources of generated energy, he claims the company must have reliable back up.
“It’s really only going to be used to generate electricity on the hottest and coldest days of the year when electricity demand is highest, and during periods when wind and solar are not producing electricity," Ruby says.
Dominion’s Integrated Resource Plan is not binding, but the company will need approval from state regulators to build new gas-burning power plants.