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Our environmental strategy focuses heavily on reducing carbon and methane emissions. We are pursuing a diverse mix of cleaner, more efficient, and lower-emitting methods of generating and delivering energy, while advancing aggressive voluntary measures to continue dramatically reducing emissions from traditional generation and delivery.
In early 2019, we added targets for total carbon emissions reductions to our existing carbon-intensity reductions targets to provide further clarity around our clean-energy strategy. In 2020, we adopted a new target: net zero emissions by 2050, for both carbon dioxide and methane. We have interim targets in place to help define the pathway to reach that goal.
Over the past two decades, the company has changed the fuel mix it uses to generate electricity, as well as improved the systems that make up its natural gas operations, to achieve a cleaner future. Examples of this transition include:
- The retirement of more than 2,200 megawatts of coal-fired and inflexible, higher-cost oil- and natural gas-fired generation over the past 10 years;
- The development of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Pilot, along with a larger build-out of offshore wind generation off the coast of Virginia;
- Since 2013, the investment of more than $4.5 billion in renewables and the increase in our total solar generation portfolio from 41 megawatts to nearly 4,600 megawatts;
- The continued work to extend the licenses of the company’s nuclear units in Virginia at the Surry and North Anna Power Stations; and
- The continued work associated with energy-storage technology, including the development of a new pumped-storage hydroelectric facility in Virginia and the deployment of four battery storage pilot projects.
Our carbon-free nuclear fleet will continue to play a central role in reducing and preventing carbon emissions. Our four nuclear stations provide enough energy to power roughly 3 million homes in the Southeast, mid-Atlantic, and New England.
We have substantially reduced both our total carbon emissions and our carbon intensity — the amount of carbon emitted per unit of energy — by generating electricity with an increasingly clean portfolio. Since 2005, we have lowered carbon emissions by 57 percent. In addition, we cut our carbon intensity from our generation facilities by 57 percent from 2000 through the end of 2019.
Our electric generating fleet’s carbon emission rate is in the lowest quartile among energy producers in the United States, according to an annual benchmarking report published by the M.J. Bradley group for the sustainability non-profit, CERES.
A Cleaner Portfolio
We are rapidly expanding our generation from renewable and cleaner generation technologies. From 2005 through 2019, Dominion Energy lowered the use of coal to generate electricity from 52 percent to 12 percent of our energy mix.
In 2019 we announced plans to retire Possum Point Unit 5 (oil) by June 2021, as well as plans to retire Chesterfield Units 5 and 6 (both coal) and Yorktown Unit 3 (oil). The closure of these carbon-emitting generating units is a step toward meeting the company’s goal of reducing emissions, and aligns with the company’s investment in cleaner, more-efficient sources of energy.
We produced our first megawatt of solar energy in 2013. In 2019 we brought 388 megawatts of solar generation online at six facilities, and signed additional solar power purchase agreements representing 400 megawatts. Since 2013 we increased our total solar generation portfolio (including projects in operation and in development) from less than 50 megawatts to nearly 4,600 megawatts. In 2019 we announced the largest offshore wind development project in the country to provide more renewable energy to our customers in Virginia. The Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Commercial project will add more than 2,600 megawatts of wind energy by 2026. We are investing in the grid to allow for reliable growth of renewables and in energy-efficiency programs.
In the next few years we plan to continue investing in renewable energy as we continue our transition to lower-carbon generation. Through 2019, Dominion Energy Virginia reached 50 percent of its goal of having 3,000 megawatts of new solar and wind generation in operation or development between 2018 and 2022, and as of August 1, 2020, had exceeded that goal. We anticipate adding more renewable energy on top of that, pursuant to the Virginia Clean Economy Act and our own net zero objectives. Over the next 15 years we plan to make significant investments in emissions reduction technologies including zero-carbon generation and energy storage, gas distribution line replacement, and renewable natural gas. In addition, between 2018 and 2025 we expect to retire more than four gigawatts of coal- and oil-fired electric generation.
Transparency and Disclosure
As part of our broader commitment to transparency, we increased our disclosures around carbon and methane emissions.
In 2019, we participated in climate and water surveys issued by the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project). The CDP surveys describe how climate change risks and opportunities are identified, assessed, and managed by Dominion Energy. Our results speak for themselves:
Dominion Energy received an A- Leadership score on the 2019 climate CDP, which places the company in a category of leaders from around the world that manage carbon emissions and address climate-related issues across their sector. Dominion Energy’s climate CDP score is higher than the global and North America regional averages of C, as well as higher than the thermal power generation sector average of B. Dominion Energy is in the top 12 percent when compared to its peers in the United States. (For results on the CDP water survey, see the “Clean Water” section of this report.)
Company initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint and reduce water withdrawals elevated Dominion Energy as a leader. The company participated in the climate and water CDP surveys again in 2020.
We most recently disclosed our methane emissions in our December 2019 Methane Emissions Reduction Report. The 2019 report provides an updated overview of the company’s methane emissions reduction initiatives, including emissions reported for 2018 based on more stringent reporting standards the company adopted voluntarily to go above and beyond the requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Because Dominion Energy is the largest utility to report both carbon and methane emissions, and our net zero target addresses both types of emissions, in 2020 we have combined the methane report with this Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Report to increase transparency and ease of access to information.