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In November 2018, Dominion Energy produced a solar-energy report for Virginia’s political leadership. To understand what different communities and interests thought about the future of solar energy, we launched a comprehensive stakeholder engagement process. This included a statewide poll of Virginia voters conducted by Public Opinion Strategies; two large public forums conducted by Meridian Institute, a not-for-profit facilitation and mediation firm; multiple smaller meetings focusing on more specific topics, also conducted by Meridian; and an online survey to capture still more insights. Meridian’s 20-page summary of its findings appear at the back of our solar-energy report.
An even longer-running effort was the Solar Pathways Project, in which our company teamed up with the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, the City of Virginia Beach, Old Dominion University, Piedmont Environmental Council, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and others to formulate a utility-administered solar-power strategy for the Commonwealth.
Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind
As the company began working in earnest on our first offshore wind project, we took care to participate in the public conversation about the issue throughout 2018, through events such as a town hall hosted by the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club; a summit with industry, executive, and environmental leaders; a workshop on coastal conservation hosted by Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality; and an inter-agency review sponsored by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management held at the Virginia State Military Reservation and Camp Pendleton in July.
Buckingham Compressor Station
When Dominion Energy proposed locating a compressor station for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Buckingham County, Virginia, controversy ensued. But long before outside groups even became aware of the proposal, our company was working with the local community to address its concerns. In 2015, we formed a Community Advisory Group to help develop plans for the compressor. Based on its input, we made several changes to the facility to minimize its impact on the community. For example, we added sound buffers and full-station silencers to minimize noise during normal operations and “blow downs” that occur every five years. We also added landscaping so the facility is not visible from nearby roads and residences.
While such efforts did not erase every objection to the project, they did assuage many concerns. In early January of 2019, Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Board voted unanimously to approve the compressor station’s permit.
When we need to place power equipment such as platform-based transformers on or near private property, homeowners understandably get nervous. We now have the ability to show them — using iPad cameras and a special augmented-reality app developed by Dominion Energy employees — exactly how their property would look when the work is complete. Using the app, we can collaborate with customers to decide just where the equipment should go. For more about the program, see the Innovation section of this report.