Reduce and Reuse
Through the use of new technology and the expansion of our renewable-energy fleet, we are eliminating the need to use water in many cases and finding new ways to conserve what water we do use.
To use less water as we transform our fleet to lower carbon and provide natural gas to our customers, and to protect waterways near our operations.
How We Performed:
We are building new generation facilities that use low-water use technologies such as dry-cooled condensers instead of water-cooled systems, as well as renewable generation projects that need no water, such as an offshore wind pilot project 27 miles out to sea in the Atlantic. In 2018 we joined forces with The Nature Conservancy to produce a report on reducing the effects of pipeline construction in mountainous terrain.
|Dominion Energy generation has already reduced its water withdrawals by utilizing low-water-use technologies (for example, dry cooled condensers) for new generation, and will further reduce water use in the future as we continue to add to our renewable generation portfolio.||Greensville Power Station will come on line later this year, along with additional solar generation — all of which employ low-water-use technology or no water to generate electricity.|
|In 2018, Dominion Energy Wexpro will install a produced water treatment system at the Canyon Creek Unit Produced Water Evaporation Facility.||Installation complete. This system will allow an estimated 21 million gallons of water to be reused over the next five years at the Canyon Creek Unit Central facility and operations.|
Where We're Headed:
We are rapidly expanding our renewable-energy portfolio, which does not require water for cooling to generate power and uses low-water-use technology for new fossil-fuel generation. Likewise, our Cove Point facility uses air cooling rather than water. In addition, Wexpro, our producing business, focuses on reducing and reusing water to minimize water use. In May and June of 2018, Dominion Energy Wexpro installed a produced water treatment system at the Canyon Creek Unit Produced Water Evaporation Facility. This system will allow an estimated 21 million gallons of produced water — water that is brought to the surface during the production of natural gas — to be reused over the next five years at Canyon Creek and operations in Wyoming.
Our business plans will result in a 50 percent reduction from 2000 levels in freshwater withdrawn per MW to generate electricity by 2030.
We will continue to proactively replace oil-filled electrical equipment to mitigate the risk of an oil release to the environment.
Dominion Energy Wexpro installed in 2018 a produced water treatment system at the Canyon Creek Unit Produced Water Evaporation Facility. This system will allow an estimated 21 million gallons of water to be reused over the next five years at the Canyon Creek Unit Central facility and operations.
We will implement measures to keep soils out of waterways by going above and beyond regulatory requirements during the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to protect waterways along the route. A few examples include:
- More environmental inspectors and more frequent and rigorous inspections during rainstorms to make sure stormwater protections are preventing runoff.
- Stronger protections for sensitive streams, including increased distances for equipment refueling and additional controls to capture more sediment.
- Strongest protections for steep slope construction ever used by the industry, specifically designed to stabilize soils and protect ridgelines in mountainous areas.
Reducing Water Use
Dominion Energy already reduced water withdrawal by using low water-use technologies (such as air-cooled condensers) for new generation, and we will further reduce water use in the future as we continue to add to our portfolio of renewable power generation and rely less on our conventional power generating technologies. In the past five years, we have put into service, in construction or under development 1,700 megawatts of solar generation, the 1,358-megawatt Brunswick Power Station and another 1,588-megawatt power station at Greensville (to begin commercial operation in late 2018) — all of which generate power with low water use. Our plans are to do more as we reduce the water used to produce each megawatt by 50 percent by 2030 when compared to 2000.
In May and June of 2018, Dominion Energy Wexpro installed a produced water treatment system at the Canyon Creek Unit Produced Water Evaporation Facility. This system will allow an estimated 21 million gallons of produced water — water that is brought to the surface during the production of natural gas — to be reused over the next five years at Canyon Creek and operations in Wyoming.
As we build new power stations, we have worked to eliminate the need to use water for cooling. The Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center, a state-of-the-art power station in Southwest Virginia, uses an air-cooled condenser. Similar, modern cooling systems were installed at our Warren County Power Station, which became operational in late 2014, and our Brunswick County Power Station, which began commercial operation in 2016. The same system will be used at the Greensville Power Station, which is expected to enter commercial operation in late 2018.
Some of our electricity generating stations need fresh water for air pollution control and equipment cooling. In some cases, we have found opportunities to reuse or recycle this valuable resource. For instance, Chesterfield Power Station reuses wastewater from the Proctors Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in parts of its air emissions control equipment. And in cooler months, Millstone Power Station in Connecticut uses variable-speed drives to regulate water and ensure the plant uses only the amount of water necessary to produce power.
Where we do use water for cooling, we are evaluating these and other technologies at 13 power stations to reduce the potential impacts of the water we use on aquatic life. These studies are to support the company’s compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s requirements to evaluate and implement the best technologies for reducing the potential to impinge or entrain fish and shellfish in water withdrawals at the stations.
Reducing Office Use
We are committed to conserving water not only in large-scale operations, but also in our office facilities. For instance, we use motion sensors in our restrooms with no-touch flush features and hand-washing fixtures to minimize water use. New company office buildings are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, and are constructed with low- consumption landscaping and building fixtures. Six of our offices have been built to these standards.
We are in the process of closing 11 ash ponds at four coal-fired power stations in Virginia. With the implementation of new dry ash management and new water treatment at Chesterfield, all future ash handling water at Chesterfield and elsewhere will be treated and eventually eliminated.
One of the first steps for closure is “de-watering” the ponds, which involves careful treatment and testing of the water before it’s released. We are working with several top firms that specialize in on-site wastewater treatment. We are removing the water and treating and testing it on-site using a multistage process to meet or go beyond stringent, government-mandated levels before release. The coal ash itself will not be released into nearby waterways – just the water that has been put through a rigorous treatment process incorporating state-of-the-art science. Once these closures are complete, these treated releases will be eliminated.
When releasing the water from coal ash ponds, we are committed to protecting nearby streams and rivers. We follow stringent standards to ensure protection of the environment. Even after the ponds are closed, groundwater will continue to be monitored. We are committed to transparency around this process. We post water-quality test results publicly on our website.
Water is used in the initial completion of natural gas wells through a process called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” While other companies produce most of the gas transferred in our pipelines, we do use this process in the extraction parts of our business.
Pipeline construction sometimes involves clearing the land in areas that have rough terrain or wetlands or streams along the path. This type of construction can be challenging, and we work with our construction partners to minimize impacts to the environment.
We use careful planning to ensure safety and build in measures to protect the environment. That’s why we did research to identify “best-in-class” practices to prevent soils from harming wetlands or streams during construction. In addition, we signed on to the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America’s Commitments to Responsible Pipeline Construction as a further commitment to minimize impacts from construction. Sometimes the plan will involve drilling beneath waterways to avoid disturbing aquatic life. This type of construction likewise requires careful planning to use the right approach to protect the waterway.
Our Cove Point liquefaction facility in Maryland is a great example of sustainability in action. We clean and re-use water with no discharge. The site’s Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) program is the most aggressive in Maryland. We minimized wetlands impacts by installing a bottomless culvert bridge, and planted or replaced 6,968 trees — twice what was removed for the project at the terminal. And we located the $4 billion facility on roughly 52 acres within the existing industrial footprint of the plant.
Dominion Energy, along with seven other energy companies, has partnered with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to develop best practices to minimize environmental impacts of pipeline construction in mountainous areas.
In the spring of 2017, TNC began engaging pipeline developers and other key stakeholders to spur collaborative action on improving steep-slope construction practices. In 2018, TNC produced “Improving Steep-Slope Pipeline Construction to Reduce Impacts to Natural Resources,” a report on the best practices to use to build pipelines safely in mountainous terrain. The report covers topics such as reducing landslides and the effect of pipelines on natural habitat.
The final report details 10 recommended and four potential best practices, which are organized according to three characteristic phases of a pipeline project: (1) pre-construction, (2) construction and restoration and (3) operation and maintenance. The practices described in the report do not supplant any federal, state/provincial, or local regulations. Because each project will have unique challenges, it is not feasible to provide guidance for all possible scenarios, nor is it expected that every suggested best practice will be used on any given project.
The Dominion Energy Cove Point LNG liquefaction facility uses a zero-liquid-discharge design that recycles water, with no releases of process water to the environment. All water used in the liquefaction process is filtered and reused, with the contaminants packaged and sent to an appropriate disposal site.
Rainwater runoff from impervious areas is collected and filtered in 11 constructed wetlands settlement ponds within the facility. The vegetation within these wetlands removes and utilizes nutrients from the rainwater runoff, further purifying it.
Air-cooled condensers are used for the electrical power generation system, rather than traditional water-cooled condensers, further reducing the amount of water used by the liquefaction operation.
Our efforts to continuously improve our management approach is born in our values and reinforced by our environmental management system. Sometimes we do not get it right the first time — and we work to address the issues so that the lapse does not happen again.
We have worked over the past year to further enhance the controls we put in place to ensure that any soil runoff during construction is minimized, to protect nearby wetlands and waterways. The measures we have taken include enhanced training and expectation-setting for both employees and contractors, and best-in -class measures for construction on steep slopes. We take our obligation to protect the environment very seriously and are constructing and operating to meet this expectation.