Environment, Habitat, & Biodiversity
We have a deep appreciation for the environment around us, and we know others do as well.
We are working hard to reduce our impact on the environment. From preserving wildlife habitats to protecting water quality and reducing waste, we are constantly looking for ways to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the world around them.
Our goal is to comply with the letter and spirit of environmental requirements and to act consistently with our core values. Those include ethics — which requires not only compliance with laws and regulations, but also avoiding harm to people and the environment. That is why we include discussion on our Environmental Management System in the “Ethics & Compliance” section of this report.
While we always aim to meet our legal and regulatory obligations, we set our sights higher than mere compliance.
Habitat & Biodiversity
We do our best to avoid disturbing wildlife and natural habitats, and we have adopted a variety of measures to protect them.
For example, we designed a Wildlife Exclusion System to minimize bat mortality, without affecting performance of air-cooled condensers at Warren County Power Station. Based on several years of monitoring after the system was installed, bat mortality at the station was reduced by 98 percent. Building on this success, we installed the system at three additional power stations from 2019 to 2021.
In another example, we constructed and operate upstream eel passage facilities that allow American Eels to access their historical range above the Roanoke Rapids and Gaston Dams. To date, more than 2 million eels have passed upstream of the Roanoke Rapids Power Station, including 10,186 that passed upstream in 2021. Transport of eels above the Gaston Dam commenced in 2018, and 4,472 passed upstream in 2021. In total, Dominion Energy has transported 9,010 eels into Lake Gaston from the eelways below Gaston Dam since 2018. Construction of the new and improved eel passage facilities below Gaston Power Station was completed in late 2021. These facilities were designed with input from federal and state resource agencies. Simultaneously, Dominion Energy is continuing to research options to provide safe, timely, and effective downstream passage for out-migrating adult American Eels from Roanoke Rapids Lake.
We also train employees on how to avoid disturbing wildlife and wildlife habitat. For instance, our Avian Nest Awareness training instructs employees to contact a company Environmental Compliance Coordinator if a nest of any kind appears to be at risk because of company infrastructure or operations.
We continue to implement new design standards that avoid affecting wildlife, and we are creating habitat for birds, bees, and other pollinators. For example, in 2021 we built a pollinator garden along the right-of-way for our new transmission project in Ashville, North Carolina. Through 2021, we added 446 acres of pollinator habitat, including 127 acres at five utility-scale solar projects that were placed in service in late 2020 and 2021. We also entered into a partnership with Bee Downtown, which places and maintains beehives on corporate campuses — including our Tredegar campus in downtown Richmond, Virginia.
We also recognize and support the work that nonprofits are doing to improve the environment. Through the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation, we contributed $6,500 to the NC Wildlife Federation toward building community and habitat resilience through wildlife in Raleigh, North Carolina, and $5,000 toward the preservation of salt marshes in Providence, Rhode Island — just two among scores of grants in the 15 states where we operate. A full list of Environmental Education & Stewardship Grant recipients can be found at https://www.dominionenergy.com/envirograntsopens in a new window.
At Dominion Energy, actions speak louder. Habitat and wildlife protection is not something we just talk about. We put them into practice through rigorous analysis, such as our 2020 (and most recent) ecological report for our Millstone Power Station in Connecticut. Data from the report, which covers more than 200 pages, is used by state and federal environmental agencies for fishery resource management, and some study results have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
For our CVOW commercial project, we signed a memorandum of understanding with the Virginia Institute for Marine Science, which is developing study plans to evaluate baseline information on several commercial fisheries. We also are coordinating with The Nature Conservancy and other stakeholders to minimize the effects of our onshore electric transmission route on habitats.
The Arbor Day Foundation has recognized Dominion Energy as a Tree Line USA Utility for, among other things, having a tree-based energy conservation program and tree planting and education programs.
By adopting new technology and applying creative approaches, we are using less water and finding ways to reuse what we do use. We have committed to reducing by 50% the amount of freshwater withdrawn for each megawatt-hour of electricity we produce by 2030. Based on our 2000 water intensity baseline of 136.2 cubic meters of water per megawatt-hour, we have reduced freshwater intensity by 47% and are on track to meet our goal of 50% reduction by 2030.
In our path toward achieving water security, we are committed to reducing water consumption through low-water technologies (for example, using air-cooled rather than water-cooled condensers at our power generation operations, where applicable). We anticipate that water intensity levels will continue to decrease as we employ these technologies and expand our solar and wind generation.
We are taking steps to protect water — for instance, by replacing oil-filled electrical equipment in our Dominion Energy Virginia operation, reducing the likelihood of releases, which could contaminate water resources. In 2021, Dominion Energy Virginia completed replacing all oil-filled breakers along its transmission system and continued replacing oil-filled breakers and switches at the distribution level. Dominion Energy South Carolina has undertaken a similar program, replacing more than 60 oil circuit breakers through the end of 2021.
In 2021, we performed the bulk of construction for our Cayce Fleet Operations facility in South Carolina. It was built to achieve LEED Silver certification and includes special stormwater and domestic water design elements. The site catches and contains all water runoff, filters it through engineered channels, and recycles it through the campus landscaping system. Water usage is metered, with building management software capturing the relevant data. The site also includes electric vehicle charging stations, and a new solar farm provides an approximately 50% offset in anticipated power consumption.
Rating On Water Security from CDP For 2020 Performance
(North American regional average: B)
Waste has an environmental cost on both ends of its life cycle: It consumes resources that do not get used, and consumes additional resources to be disposed of properly. From coal ash to compost, Dominion Energy has consistently sought new ways to recycle our waste where feasible and reduce the amount of material we send to landfills. To minimize waste generation, the company maintains an array of waste-reduction programs including recycling, composting, a “Zero E-Waste to Landfill” program for electronics, and a zero-waste approach toward numerous company events. In South Carolina, we beneficially reused over 300,000 tons of coal ash in 2021, including over 190,000 tons that were produced in previous years.
In 2021, strategic sustainability efforts in supply chain operations prevented over 18,000 pounds of pallet waste, 13.4 million pounds of ferrous metal waste, and led to an overall 15% reduction in warehouse landfill waste (nearly 80 tons) compared to 2020. Our new rubber recycling program diverted over 5.5 tons of rubber material from landfills that will be used to build playground equipment. We continue to partner with suppliers on sustainable solutions to drive efficiency and reduce waste.
Over a century of coal mining in Southwestern Virginia has left a mark: millions of tons of waste coal known as GOB (short for “garbage of bituminous”) has been left in piles, contaminating the ground, water, and air. GOB was the primary contributor to the 1994 listing of Dumps Creek — the largest stream in the area and a tributary of the Clinch River — as an impaired waterway under the federal Clean Water Act.
In 2010, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (now the Virginia Department of Energy) authorized reclamation work to commence on GOB piles in the Dumps Creek watershed. Over 475,000 tons of GOB were removed from the watershed of Hurricane Fork, an upstream tributary of Dumps Creek , and converted to energy at Dominion Energy’s Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center (VCHEC), which burns waste coal and biomass, providing an economic and beneficial reuse for these environmentally detrimental waste products that otherwise would remain in place. Reclamation of Hurricane Fork won a national award from the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement and led to the 2016 removal of Dumps Creek from EPA’s list of impaired waterways.
We look for ways to recycle other material, too. As we renovate our office buildings to provide the best workplace experience for our employees, we strive to give our retiring office furniture a sustainable second life by offering it for donation to local area nonprofits. In 2021, Dominion Energy began a partnership with Green Standardsopens in a new window to improve access to furniture donations as we renovated our Innsbrook campus in Glen Allen, Virginia. Through this partnership, more than 81% of the furniture from Innsbrook, or more than 242 tons, was diverted from landfill. In addition to recycling furniture that was past its useful life, 525 pieces of were donated to area nonprofits, and 328 pieces were relocated to other company office locations.
In 2021, Dominion Energy expanded its composting program to include three new locations, including on-site vermicomposting bins at our Remington and Possum Point power stations in Virginia. The program resulted in more than 85,000 pounds of recycled organic waste. Through partnership with our Richmond-based compost service vendor, Natural Organics Process Enterprisesopens in a new window, a portion of our finished compost is donated to local schools, farms, and community gardens, such as the Alternative Paths Training School (APTS) in Fredericksburg, Virginia. APTS is a year-round special education day school that uses gardens as part of their curriculum.