Category Archives: Dominion

Dominion Has Not Convinced Congress to Legislate AT Crossing

From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #257, December 19, 2019:

Efforts by Dominion Energy to convince Congress to approve having the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail have not yielded results. For most of the past year Dominion has been seeking to have a rider added to other legislation that would, in effect, overturn the decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that vacated the permit for the ACP issued by the U.S. Forest Service. Within the past week, two prominent bills that were believed to be possible vehicles for the Dominion amendment – the National Defense Authorization Act and the continuing resolution funding the Federal Government –passed without language addressing the AT issue. For now, the issue remains pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is scheduled to hear arguments on an appeal of the Fourth Circuit decision on the case (U.S. Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, et. al.) on February 24. A decision on the case is anticipated to be announced in June.

New Study: Charitable Gifts by Utilities Used to Win Public Support

In a first-of-its-kind analysis, the Energy and Policy Institute has examined the charitable contributions of 10 leading investor-owned electric utilities in the U.S., finding that all of these major utilities use charitable giving to manipulate politics, policies and regulation in ways designed to increase shareholder profits, often at the expense of low-income communities whose communities are more likely to bear the brunt of climate impacts and suffer higher levels of air pollution.

Strings Attached: How utilities use charitable giving to influence politics and increase investor profits, finds that:

  • From 2013 to 2017, EPI estimates that the 10 utilities that we assessed – Ameren, American Electric Power, Arizona Public Service, Dominion Energy, DTE Energy, Duke Energy, Entergy, FirstEnergy, NextEra Energy, and Southern Company – gave approximately $1 billion to charitable organizations
  • That number, for just 10 companies, is 13 times greater than the $78 million that the entire utility sector – including political action committees and individual employees – contributed to federal elections in the 2014, 2016, and 2018 cycle
  • Much of the utilities’ charitable activity is geared explicitly to influence politics
  • Organizations who received contributions from the utility companies engaged in political activities on the companies’ behalf without disclosing that reality publicly
  • Utilities use charities to extort support from low-income communities and communities of color
  • These companies spend millions of dollars, earned from captive customers, to prosecute their political arguments, and have the resources to employ fleets of lobbyists and lawyers to represent them at public utility commissions and state legislatures.

Dominion and the AT (Yes, Again Please!)

We are told that Dominion will be trying very hard in the last weeks of this Congressional session to persuade members of Congress to ignore the pending Supreme Court process and adopt legislation to immediately permit the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and future natural gas pipelines through our national forests and across the Appalachian Trail.

Please (yet again!) contact your Congressional Representative and Senators Warner and Kaine and ask them to watch for and oppose – and ask their leadership to oppose – any rider or amendment to a congressional bill or continuing resolution that would allow Dominion to bypass the case to be heard before the Supreme Court on February 24, 2020.

Here are documents to help you as you contact your legislators:

Why Do We Need It?

In December 2018, Virginia’s State Corporation Commission rejected Dominion Energy Virginia’s proposed Integrated Resource Plan, finding that Dominion’s forecasts “have been consistently overstated, particularly in years since 2012, with high growth expectations despite generally flat actual results each year.” S&P Global, in their December 4, 2019 article, Overpowered: In Virginia, Dominion faces challenges to its reign, goes on to say that, “electricity demand in Virginia grew less than 1% from the Great Recession of 2007-2008 through 2017, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and is projected to remain essentially flat for at least the next decade. In an era of little to no demand growth, when it is already removing plants from service long before their planned retirement dates, Dominion continues to add thousands of megawatts of new gas-fired capacity. And since it is a regulated monopoly, the company continues to pass the costs of those plants along to its customers.”

The S&P Global also notes, “An examination of SCC records, Dominion’s past integrated resource plans, campaign finance documents and independent reports, along with interviews with utility analysts and environmental advocates and statements from Dominion officials, shows that the company has consistently over-forecast electricity demand to justify building new capacity, primarily natural gas plants with dubious economics that will ultimately be paid for by ratepayers.”

A day after publication of the S&P article, it is interesting to read in Utility Dive’s article, Dominion suspends plan to add 1.5 GW of peaking capacity as Virginia faces gas glut, that “Dominion Energy on Wednesday announced it suspended a request for proposals (RFP) that targeted up to 1,500 MW of dispatchable peak capacity in its Virginia territory, which observers said would have likely resulted in natural gas additions. Announced in November, the utility said the RFP aimed to replace retiring generation and provide system balancing needs as more renewables are added onto the grid. Dominion said it may reissue the RFP in the future, if it determines the capacity is needed. The utility’s announcement follows reporting from S&P Global that the company has been over-forecasting its demand for years in order to justify spending on new natural gas facilities.”

So if electricity demand is over-forecast, Virginia faces a power glut, and Dominion is pulling back from building additional gas-fired power generation plants, why is it we need the Atlantic Coast Pipeline?

‘Everyday People’ vs. Corporate Goliath

Who.What.Why discusses the David vs Goliath battle of “everyday people” against Dominion in a November 25, 2019 article. “It seems like a David vs. Goliath battle. Since 2014, a coalition of environmental, civil rights, and community groups, along with some local businesses, has fought in court to block a massive $8 billion pipeline. The anti-pipeline coalition, which is represented by an environmental law firm, is up against a politically connected corporation with 7.5 million customers in 18 states, 21,000 employees, and 2018 earnings of $2.4 billion.”

In addition to eliminating “more than 6,800 acres of forest — an area the size of eight Central Parks” and upending the lives of people living on or near its route, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline “has implications for millions of ratepayers in both Virginia and North Carolina. It also raises concerns about a major utility’s investment in fossil fuels, at a time when carbon emissions are jeopardizing the way humans live in the future.”

The article discusses the Supreme Court’s agreement to hear Dominion’s appeal of the December 2018 Fourth Circuit ruling that “the US Forest Service does not have the authority to grant Dominion the right to build its pipeline across the Appalachian Trail ‘at its preferred crossing point,’ on federal lands,” and why a Dominion victory in the Supreme Court would not be the last word, how the pipeline could punish Dominion ratepayers, whether (or not) Dominion’s political clout will prevail, as well as the surge in grassroots political engagement to fight the ACP.

Lewis Freeman, executive director of the Allegheny–Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA), a coalition of 51 community and environmental groups of which Friends of Nelson is one, says the ACP has energized average citizens.

“Pipeline construction will require ACP engineers to sheer the tops off some mountain ridges. When Freeman asked an engineer what they would do with all that rock and soil, the engineer responded that the materials would be ‘”carefully set aside” and then “put back the way it was.” Well, you don’t have to be an engineer to blink at that,’ Freeman said. ‘Are they gonna put it back with Gorilla glue?'”

Freeman continued, saying, “‘Notwithstanding the length of time this battle has gone, I marvel at the people and organizations that have, from the early stages, opposed this project. Most of our members are community groups, citizens groups, many of which were formed as a result of the pipeline proposal.’ These ‘involved activists had never been involved in a fight like this before,’ Freeman added. ‘So when Dominion talks about the “wild-eye environmentalists,” they’re mischaracterizing who their opposition is. They’re everyday people who just think this is a lousy project in the wrong place.'”

Who.What.Why notes that, “Dominion did not respond to two requests for comment on this story.”

Read the full article here.

Dominion and the AT: Contact Your Senators and Representative (Again)

Late last week we learned that Dominion Energy is putting a full-court press with members of the Virginia congressional delegation to urge their support for congressional action on overturning the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to vacate the Forest Service permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline which, among other things, would have permitted the pipeline to cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. The Court ruled that the Forest Service did not possess the legal authority to issue such a permit. This is notwithstanding the appeal of that decision that is due to be argued early next year before the U.S. Supreme Court.

We asked you this past summer and again in late September to contact your Congressional Representative and Senators Warner and Kaine to urge their opposition to any such rider or amendment. Hundreds of you responded. But, given this new development, renewed contact with your Representative and the two Senators is necessary, asking them: 1) to oppose any such legislation; and 2) to let their congressional leadership know they oppose it.

Here are documents to help you as you contact your legislators: