Category Archives: Clean Energy

Three Fine Letters

Three fine letters in the January 31, 2019, Nelson County Times address a January 24 article (an article not a letter) supporting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, saying “saying it will bring jobs to younger generations and create revenue to ensure the county continues.”

In Dominion’s job-creation myths, Joe Madison points out that by Dominion’s own admission there will be no meaningful post-construction pipeline jobs in the county, and almost all of the construction jobs will be held by out-of-state workers who travel the length of the line.

In Pipeline a thing of the past, Jane Twitmyer cites Bloomberg data to show the ways that the ACP will keep Virginia in the past rather than allowing the commonwealth to move forward into a future with a modern energy system.

Finally, in ACP can’t deliver on promises, Helen Kimble, President of Friends of Nelson, says, “Atlantic Coast Pipeline opponents and our neighbors who support the project share at least some of the same goals. Like the proponents, those who oppose the project also want a healthy county economy that provides good jobs and enables the young people who want to stay in Nelson to do so. However, we differ strongly about how to achieve those goals. We view the ACP as a threat to one of the state’s fastest growing rural economies.”

Kimble quotes Dominion data saying there would be 271 jobs spread over three states during the planned six-year development and construction phase, and many of those, as well as all of the construction jobs, would go to out-of-state contractors with special skills. If the ACP is built, Wintergreen will not build its planned hotel and conference center, nor would developers build Spruce Creek Resort and Market – immediate proximity of the ACP to both projects would kill them. “Taken together, the Wintergreen hotel and Spruce Creek resort represent $75 million in investments, $23.5 million to $32 million in annual revenue and at least 250 new full-time tourism jobs, according to Friends of Wintergreen. For Nelson’s younger generation, those jobs could help them develop their business skills and gain entry into the worldwide, multi-billion dollar tourism industry.”  During construction, “some motels, gas stations, speedy marts, dollar stores and fast food places would get a temporary boost in their businesses, but that boost is small compared to the revenue from a single week during a good ski season.”

Kimble notes the expensive damage to roads by construction vehicles (who would pay to repair?) and the ever-present danger of pipeline failure. “In 2018 alone, 12 gas pipelines ruptured nationwide. In at least two cases, brand new pipelines failed because of soil movement following heavy rains. With the ACP route traversing Nelson’s steep slopes, there is a good chance that something similar could happen here.”

She concludes, “Building the ACP is not the right way to reach the goals its proponents seek. The ACP is an economic loser and environmental threat for Nelson County.”

Read all three letters here.

“Leaking Serious Oil”

“Forgive the imagery (and the irony), but the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is increasingly looking like an old automobile in need of a valve job – it is leaking serious oil, suffers by comparison to newer, more advanced models, and even if it can be made roadworthy, you and I will pay the bill for decades.” So says State Representative David Toscano in his blog post on January 2, 2019.

He goes on to describe how what “was first presented about future energy needs requiring the building of this massive new pipeline has been undercut by developments over and over again.” Specifically:

  • “recent testimony before the State Corporation Commission (SCC), critics utilized Dominion Energy’s own data to show that the ACP could increase ratepayer bills as much as $2.3 billion over the life of the project”
  • legal challenges continue, leading to several stays and lawsuits
  • “the energy landscape has changed dramatically in the last few years. Renewables are increasingly competitive with fossil fuel generation”
  • “As costs of renewables have declined, electricity usage remains relatively flat, thereby raising questions about the need for larger pipelines. Though not related exclusively to the pipeline, the SCC recently directed Dominion to refile its Integrated Resources Plan (IRP), largely because the company’s projections of ‘peak load and sales forecasts’ were unjustified by the data, and ‘have been consistently overstated.'”
  • “we now know that Dominion’s existing long term pipeline contracts, mostly with the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline (Transco), can deliver enough gas to existing power plants and even those that may be built in the future”

He concludes that, “there is a need to replace our aging and increasingly decrepit thermal generation fleet (coal, gas, and nuclear power plants), and natural gas remains cheaper and certainly less toxic than coal.” BUT – “As we transition to a carbon-free future, the Commonwealth obviously wants to avoid unacceptable disruptions or major rate spikes. Consequently, there may be a need for some small gas interconnectors (particularly in the Tidewater region) to overcome regional pipeline congestion, and likely some hard choices about pipelines and transmission lines will remain for some time. But those choices do not mean we need to embrace a pipeline as massive as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This behemoth is ‘leaking oil’ and, like that old car, is no longer worth the investment needed to keep it going.”

Read Toscano’s full statement here.

Dominion Energy’s Power Grab

On November 15, 2018, Food and Water Watch released a report on Dominion Energy’s Power Grab, detailing the company’s long history of entrenching itself politically to smooth the way for its pollution-for-profit agenda – at great cost to consumers and the environment. Major points from the report:

  • Dominion has spent at least $59 million since 1998 on campaign contributions, lobbying and gifts to influence Virginia legislators and officials, the U S Congress and other states across the country where it has operated.
  • Dominion has repeatedly successfully crafted — and recrafted — Virginia’s electric utility rules to benefit Dominion while driving up electric bills.
  • Dominion’s legacy of pollution continues to threaten communities.
  • Despite Dominion’s slow shedding of dirty coal-fired power plants, its carbon dioxide emissions from its current coal, gas, oil and biomass power plants have been trending upward.

Read the full report here.

Tom Farrell’s Op Ed vs Reality

Thomas F. Farrell, Dominion CEO, has an op ed column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch for October 20, 2018, Powering Virginia’s future with clean, affordable, and reliable energy. As one might expect, it is filled with misleading and erroneous statements. For a reality check, read Blue Virginia’s detailed commentary on and corrections of the op ed column.  Here are three of Blue Virginia’s multiple corrections to Farrell’s piece:

  • “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a great example of the type of investment it takes to affordably and reliably power Virginia’s homes and businesses, while also making our energy cleaner.” (This is utter rubbish. In fact, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a massive, multi-billion-dollar boondoggle that is not needed, will likely end up “stranded” in a few years, and which absolutely will NOT make “our energy cleaner,” as fracked natural gas must have “methane losses…kept below 3.2 percent for natural gas power plants to have lower life cycle emissions than new coal plants over short time frames of 20 years or fewer,” and that “methane leaks offset much of the climate change benefit of natural gas.”)
  • “While the project is overwhelmingly supported by the communities where it’s being built, it has encountered opposition.” (Any serious evidence that this project is “overwhelmingly supported by the communities where it’s being built?”)
  • “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will save consumers money on their natural gas and electricity bills” (In fact, according to Will Cleveland of the Southern Environmental Law Center,the pipeline contract that Dominion has signed on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will actually increase customer costs by about two billion dollars”)

FERC Commissioner LaFleur Speaks on Natural Gas

Natural Gas Intelligence reported on October 16, 2018, that FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur’s, in her speech to North American Gas Forum hosted by Energy Dialogues, discussed the natural gas industry’s “complicated relationship” with climate change. LaFleur has dissented on several recent pipeline decisions and “has critiqued FERC’s approach to assessing climate change impacts from gas projects.”

She spoke of the need for “more in-depth climate assessments as part of a broader desire to see FERC incorporate more information into the record when it analyzes project need, including the anticipated end-uses of the gas.”

She also “called for FERC to go beyond precedent agreements in evaluating the need for a pipeline project. She said basing FERC’s certificate decisions solely on precedent agreements could lead to pipeline overbuild.”

Read the full article here.

Northam’s Energy Plan: High Points and Missed Opportunities

Writing in the Virginia Mercury on October 15, 2018, Ivy Main analyzes Governor Northam’s new Virginia Energy Plan, especially in light of the recently released report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “that makes it clear we need ‘rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society’ to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

Main says, “There’s a lot to like in Northam’s energy plan, but missed opportunities abound,” and notes that “Perhaps no Virginia politician today has the courage to rise to the challenge the IPCC describes. Certainly, Gov. Northam shows no signs of transforming into a rapid-change kind of leader. But as we celebrate the proposals in his energy plan that would begin moving us away from our fossil-fuel past, we also have to recognize that none of them go nearly far enough.”

She discusses in detail some of the high points of the administration’s plan as well as the missed opportunities.