CCAN is working to set a new direction for Virginia’s energy future – one powered by wind and solar energy and other clean technologies. We need energy that strengthens our communities, not Dominion’s planet-heating fossil fuels that put us at risk.
Residents of coastal neighborhoods in Norfolk deal with water lapping at their front doors from global warming-induced sea level rise and farmers all over the commonwealth worry about the weather becoming more unpredictable from climate change. But Virginia’s largest electricity supplier and biggest non-party donor to state politicians – Dominion Virginia Power – continues to push policies that discourage climate solutions, all the while making plans to build more and more fossil fuel-burning power plants.
Dominion is the top corporate political donor in Virginia, and the company has long held influence over Virginian politics. The company has donated nearly $11 million to various campaigns and causes, which many have connected to Virginia’s lax environmental regulations and the rate-freeze legislation that has served as a windfall for the company. In October 2017, the Richmond Times-Dispatch released a multi-part investigative series on Dominion’s political power.
However, here is some evidence that Dominion’s political power is decreasing. In the 2017 midterm elections, 14 candidates ran who signed a pledge refusing campaign contributions from Dominion — and won.
We can keep this momentum going. You can help us break Dominion’s stranglehold on Virginia’s energy policy – and push all our lawmakers to take action for climate solutions – not more pollution.
Read about our vision for Virginia’s energy future and take action:
- Stop the clock on fossil fuels.
- Bring about large-scale clean energy solutions for Virginia.
- Protect the Virginians most impacted by climate change and rising seas.
- Encourage small-scale clean energy development.
- Take the power over Virginia’s energy policies back from corporate polluters.
- Fight Dominion’s plans to dump coal ash in our rivers.
As the impacts of climate change hit home, the call for clean energy in the commonwealth continues to sound louder and louder. What is Dominion doing in response? Dragging its feet on clean energy while doubling down on plans to build more massive fossil fuel-burning power plants that will only make the impacts of climate change worse.
In 2013, Dominion got approval from state regulators to build a 1,358 megawatt natural gas-fired power station in Brunswick County that would emit as much carbon pollution annually as half a million cars. A study commissioned by CCAN and our partners with the Wise Energy for Virginia Coalition, shows that on Dominion’s current trajectory, its carbon pollution will increase by 50% over the next 25 years. Meanwhile, the company’s latest 15-year energy plan submitted to the State Corporation Commission would increase the utility’s carbon emissions by 37 percent while increasing the proportion of clean energy in its energy portfolio by zero percent. Unacceptable.
A recent report conducted by independent experts found Dominion could meet its long-term energy needs by investing in energy efficiency and wind and solar power technologies — all at lower cost to its customers. But our utility companies won’t act unless our lawmakers hold them accountable. We’re pushing for policies that will ensure utilities develop large-scale clean energy in Virginia and bring us the benefits of cleaner air, new jobs and a safer climate.
- Strengthening Virginia’s clean electricity goal, the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). While the majority of U.S. states require utilities to generate an increasing portion of their electricity from renewable energy, in 2007 Virginia lawmakers passed a voluntary goal for each utility to get 15% of its electricity supply from renewable energy by 2025. While well intended, the law has not generated results. In fact, no utility-scale wind or solar facilities have been built in Virginia for the purpose of meeting the RPS goal. Instead, loopholes are allowing utilities to rely on the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) from old, out-of-state facilities, such as WWII-era hydro-electric dams. These loopholes must be closed and the goals strengthened to meet the law’s original purpose: creating new jobs, making Virginia’s air and water cleaner, and reducing emissions of planet-heating pollution.
- Bring Offshore Wind Power to Virginia. Off Virginia’s coastline sits a tremendous renewable energy resource: wind power. Studies show that developing Virginia’s offshore wind resources could alone power 700,000 homes and create 10,000 Virginia jobs.In 2013, Dominion won a federal lease auction for the rights to develop wind farms off Virginia’s coast. Unfortunately, Dominion omitted any plans to develop large-scale offshore wind power in its most recent 15-year energy plan, and we are concerned that the company will, once again, drag its feet in developing this key resource. CCAN is working with other Virginia environmental groups to push Dominion Virginia Power, Virginia’s U.S. Senators, and Governor McAuliffe to work together to get offshore wind turbines up and running off our coasts as soon as possible.
Coastal Virginians are already seeing climate change at their doorsteps as seas rise and storms grow more severe. Through our Safe Coast Virginia campaign, we’re working with our friends and neighbors on the front lines of climate impacts in Hampton Roads to secure measures to build resilient communities. See our Safe Coast page for more resources and to take action.
Virginians are already taking meaningful steps to power their homes and businesses with clean energy, but right now Dominion uses its power as a regulated monopoly to slow progress at every turn. We’re working to empower individuals and businesses to invest in solar, wind and efficiency solutions by making sure policies reward them, not punish or hinder them.
In the 2014 General Assembly session, we won significant victories to move in the right direction. Legislators repealed an unfair and punitive annual tax on owners of fuel-efficient hybrid cars, which was passed the year earlier. The General Assembly also passed legislation to remove punishing tax barriers on solar power installations in the commonwealth, helping to incentivize the spread of solar rooftops and clean energy jobs across the commonwealth.
We must ensure that legislators and regulators are held accountable to people, not corporations like Dominion. But it isn’t just legislators who need to act: We’re building the grassroots climate movement in Virginia to ensure our legislators and regulators act in the interests of our communities. That means we need you to join the fight to bring smart energy solutions to Virginia.
Since January 2016, Dominion’s plans to dump toxic coal ash wastewater and leave solid coal ash in unlined, leaky dumps along our rivers has ignited intense backlash across Virginia.
In January 2016, the Virginia State Water Control Board gave Dominion permits to ‘dewater’ their coal ash ponds at their Possum Point and Bremo Bluff Power Stations. Despite opposition from State Senators, Mayors, the State of Maryland, countless organizations and hundreds showing up in opposition – the Board approved 5-1.
In response, a local community group – No ACP – organized a march with over six hundred people in the streets of Richmond demanding revocation of the permits. Several were arrested peacefully on the Capitol Steps demanding to speak with Governor McAuliffe.
As the permit date for the dewatering rapidly approached with no signs of the Governor or Department of Environmental Quality stepping in, people felt obligated to act. Thirty-five members of the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition occupied the lobby of the Department of Environmental Quality for three and a half hours demanding permit revocation. Seventeen were arrested peacefully.
The fight has continued as NPR’s WAMU station in Washington released a shocking exposé, detailing a 2013 trip DEQ Director Dave Paylor took to the Master’s Golf Tournament – valued at $2,300 – paid for by Dominion. He also rang up a $1,300 at a nearby Irish pub.
Now, groups across the state are building a broader, stronger movement in anticipation of Dominion’s application for their solid waste permits.
Their disposal plan takes part in two segments – water permits and solid waste permits. First, Dominion must apply for permit to ‘dewater’ their coal ash ponds. This means pumping out millions of gallons of water from these ponds, treating it (though not to a level we find acceptable), and then dumping it into our rivers.
Afterwards – they must deal with the solid coal ash left behind. Dominion’s preferred method is known as ‘cap-in-place,’ where they want to lay a synthetic liner overtop the coal ash, cover it with soil, and leave it where it lies.
Capping-in-place is not a safe long-term solution, as all of these ponds were built decades ago, and do not have a synthetic liner underneath the coal ash. They will continue to leach toxic heavy metals into our waterways for decades to come.
Dominion has four power stations across the state with coal ash ponds. They have received two dewatering permits for their Possum Point and Bremo Bluff Stations. They still must receive dewatering permits for their Chesterfield and Chesapeake Stations, and solid waste permits for all four.
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is working intensely with citizens and organizations across the state to stop these faulty plans – exploring all avenues from grassroots to legal options.
Sign the petition: Demand an EPA investigation of Dominion’s coal ash dumping.
To get involved email Drew Gallagher, Virginia Field Organizer, at email@example.com.
- Read the report: Changing Course: A Clean Energy Investment Plan for Dominion Virginia Power
- Learn more: Safe Coast Virginia campaign