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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 methods.
Our reduction strategy includes several initiatives that focus on the ways electricity is produced, transmitted and consumed, such as:
- Selling, closing, or converting to cleaner fuels a number of coal-fired generation units;
- Pursuing license extensions for existing carbon-free nuclear units;
- Enhancing conservation and energy efficiency programs to help customers use energy wisely;
- Evaluating power storage technologies, such as additional hydroelectric pumped storage and batteries, to support increased renewables;
- Constructing new infrastructure to modernize the grid, to expand the availability of cleaner fuel and to help deliver cleaner energy to population centers; and
- Continuing our efforts to voluntarily reduce methane from our gas infrastructure.
Dominion Energy placed several fuel generating units into cold reserve including: Bellemeade, Bremo and Mecklenburg; Chesterfield, units 3 and 4, and Possum Point, units 3 and 4. All cold reserve units were permanently retired in March 2019.
Our carbon-free nuclear fleet will continue to play a central role in reducing and preventing carbon emissions. Our three nuclear stations provide enough energy to power almost 3.9 million homes in the Southeast, mid-Atlantic and New England. The company also announced its intention to seek additional relicensing from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for all four of its reactors in Virginia at the Surry and North Anna Power Stations for an additional 20 years. We are seeking to extend the licenses of our around-the-clock carbon-free nuclear facilities so they can continue to play an important role in providing clean energy to our customers.
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. From 2000 through the end of 2018, we cut our carbon intensity by more than 50 percent.
Since 2005, we have lowered carbon emissions by 52 percent, the equivalent of taking over 6 million non-EV cars off the road.
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 nonprofit, CERES.
Electric generation in the future will be more efficient, like the natural gas-fired power station that opened in Greensville County, Virginia in 2018. Able to power 400,000 homes, it is one of the largest, most efficient power stations in the United States. The station operates under one of the most stringent air permits in the United States with regard to carbon emissions. To learn more about Greensville, see the section on Investing in Infrastructure for Clean Energy.
A Cleaner Portfolio
We are rapidly expanding our generation from renewable and cleaner-generation technologies. From 2005 through 2018, Dominion Energy lowered the use of coal to generate electricity from 47 percent to 12 percent of our energy mix.
We produced our first megawatt of solar energy in 2013. In 2018, we brought 136 megawatts of solar generation online at six facilities, and signed additional solar agreements representing 415 megawatts. Since 2013, we increased our total solar generation portfolio from 41 megawatts to nearly 2,600 megawatts. In 2018, we announced the launch of our renewable Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind pilot project, which is only the second offshore wind project in the country and the first owned by an electric utility. 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 invest another $4 billion in renewable energy as we continue our transition to lower-carbon generation, including support or development of 3,000 megawatts of new solar or wind in Virginia by 2022.
Transparency and Disclosure
As part of our broader commitment to transparency, we increased our disclosures around carbon and methane emissions.
In 2018, Dominion Energy participated in climate, forest and water surveys issued by the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project). The company is also participating in the climate and water CDP surveys in 2019.
We most recently disclosed our methane emissions in our May 2019 Methane Emissions Reduction Report. We began publishing annual methane reports in 2015, building on more than a decade of voluntary reporting on greenhouse gas emissions.
As noted above, in 2018 we conducted a two-degree scenario analysis and published a Climate Report to enhance our disclosures concerning our generation business, strategy, governance, and risks and opportunities. For information on risks to the current generating fleet from climate change and climate policy, see the Clean Energy section of this report, as well as the Climate Report.