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.
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 five-point vision for Virginia’s energy future below 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.
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. Meanwhile, Dominion’s latest 15-year energy plan submitted to the State Corporation Commission would further increase the utility’s carbon emissions while adding only miniscule levels of new renewable energy development. 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. Unacceptable.
We must demand a change in course! We’re calling on the State Corporation Commission to reject plans by Dominion Power and other utilities to build more huge gas-fired power plants and to instead require real plans for clean energy and energy efficiency investments.
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.
2014 priorities include:
- Strengthen 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.
A bill to strengthen Virginia's RPS (SB 498/HB 822) has passed both houses of the legislature and is on its way to becoming law in the Commonwealth!
- 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.
CCAN has been working on a bill (SJ 3/HJ 16) that would require the state to create a joint House and Committee to study the effects of recurrent flooding. That bill passed the House and Senate unanimously, signaling progress for coastal communities threatened by recurrent flooding and sea level rise.
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.
2014 legislative priorities include:
- Repeal the hybrid tax! The hybrid tax repeal bill has passed both houses of the General Assembly and is expected to be signed by the Governor in the coming weeks!
- Provide Solar Equipment Tax Relief. Virginia lags far behind its neighboring states in solar development. We have just 1/8 of the installed solar capacity of North Carolina and 1/12 of the capacity of Maryland. This means lost jobs and lost opportunities to diversify our energy portfolio. A key reason is that Virginia allows punishing and inconsistent taxes on solar equipment at the local level. A bill to extend solar machinery and tools the same tax breaks already given to landfill gas and other “pollution abatement equipment,” passed the House 93-5 and the Senate unanimously. When Governor McAuliffe signs it into law, this bill will help incentivize new solar arrays, create jobs and, ultimately, generate new revenue as businesses stop taking their investments to neighboring states.
Click here for a factsheet on solar machinery and tools tax relief.
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.
- Email your state legislators and urge them to repeal the hybrid car tax in 2014.
- Tell the State Corporation Commission: Virginia needs a clean energy investment plan from Dominion.