Climate change is one of the most significant energy and environmental challenges. Dominion Energy is committed to doing our part by reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from our electric generating fleet and our natural gas businesses.
Reducing greenhouse gases is a major focus of Dominion Energy’s environmental strategy. We will pursue 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.
How We Performed:
We cut our carbon intensity by 50 percent from 2000 to the end of 2017, in large part by relying less on coal-burning power plants and more on gas-fired, our nuclear and renewable generation. In the last 10 years we have reduced our carbon emissions by nearly 50 percent — the equivalent of taking 6 million cars off the road. We reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury rates by more than 90 percent, and invested $3.5 billion in renewable generation over the past five years – leading to a doubling of our electricity production from renewable energy. In our natural gas business, we voluntarily reduced methane emissions, saving 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas since 2008.
|Dominion Energy will increase disclosures around greenhouse gases by participating in the climate Corporate Disclosure Project (CDP) reporting on greenhouse gases in 2018.||The CDP was submitted in August 2018. Additional public disclosures completed to date include an update to the Methane Management Report and participation in the EEI ESG and AGA ESG sustainability metrics pilots. A Climate Report including a two-degree scenario analysis was posted in November 2018.|
|The company intends to reduce our carbon intensity to 50 percent by 2030 from 2000 levels.||This target has been met.|
|Methane Reductions: Dominion Energy East Ohio and Dominion Energy West Virginia will implement a pipeline replacement program for its main and service lines and commit to replacing at least 1.5 percent of the unprotected steel and cast iron pipes every year by 2021.||In progress and on target.|
|Methane Reductions: Dominion Energy Wexpro will install instrument air systems (air compressors and air dryers) to 31 end devices at Canyon Creek and Church Buttes, eliminating 46,000 MCF of gas lost and related emissions.||This project has been installed on target.|
Where We’re Headed:
In the next few years we will invest another $4 billion in renewable energy including support or development of 3,000 MW of new solar or wind in Virginia by 2022, as we continue our transition to lower carbon generation. We are investing in the grid to allow for reliable growth of renewables and in energy efficiency programs. We will continue a comprehensive methane strategy to reduce methane emissions further and faster in the next five years.
Disclosure and transparency addressed in Governance commitments.
Our business plan should result in a reduction of carbon produced for each unit (rate or intensity) of generation of 60 percent by 2030 compared to 2000 levels.
Methane Reductions: Dominion Energy East Ohio and Dominion Energy West Virginia have implemented a pipeline replacement program for main and service lines committing to replace unprotected steel and cast iron pipes at a level that meets or exceeds the EPA Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge.
The Company commits to reduce methane intensity from its natural gas business by 50 percent by 2030 (from 2010 baseline).
Beginning in 2019, we are voluntarily going beyond the regulatory requirements in West Virginia and Ohio to increase annual inspections and maintenance from 20 percent to 33 percent of our gas regulator stations to keep natural gas in the system and avoid methane emissions.
Beginning in 2019, equipment is planned to be installed on gas distribution construction projects involving large diameter pipe to minimize the need to blowdown natural gas which will reduce methane emissions.
The company has committed to test and pilot new technology to reduce natural gas loss during inline pipe inspections.
Transitioning to Lower Carbon
As part of Dominion Energy’s long-term strategic planning, our environmental strategy is aimed at transitioning to a lower-carbon economy while providing reliable and affordable energy. Our customers want cleaner energy and we want to provide it while maintaining reliability. The integrated strategy to meet these objectives consists of three principal elements:
- Reducing greenhouse-gas emissions;
- Energy infrastructure and modernization, including natural gas and electric operations to support more renewables; and
- Enhancing conservation and energy efficiency to help customers use energy wisely.
The principal components of the greenhouse-gas reduction strategy, which include initiatives that address electric energy production and delivery, natural gas storage, transmission and delivery and energy management are as follows:
- Sell, close, place in cold reserve or convert to cleaner fuels a number of coal-fired generation units. The company has executed on this strategy by divesting of its merchant coal units, converting several coal units to biomass, placing nine less efficient regulated coal and gas units into “cold reserve,” and will complete the retirement of two coal units at Yorktown upon completion of transmission upgrades in 2019;
- Pursue the extension of operating licenses of existing nuclear units, which provide carbon-free generation;
- Expand Dominion Energy’s renewable-energy portfolio to further diversify the company’s fleet, meet state renewable-energy targets and lower the carbon footprint;
- Continue to evaluate business opportunities presented by a lower-carbon economy and innovative technologies such as renewable natural gas (RNG), which we are pursuing through (1) a recently announced joint venture with Smithfield Foods, (2) incentivizing RNG purchases at compressed-natural-gas stations, and (3) a voluntary RNG program for Utah customers;
- Evaluate effective storage solutions, such as batteries, hydroelectric pumped storage and natural gas storage options, which help support a grid with increased renewables;
- Enhance conservation and energy efficiency programs on both the electric and natural gas side of our business to help customers use energy wisely and reduce environmental impacts;
- Evaluate behind-the-meter and rate design solutions and other business opportunities;
- Construct new electric and gas transmission infrastructure to modernize the grid, to expand the availability of cleaner fuel, to reduce emissions, to promote energy and economic security and to help deliver more green energy to population centers where it is needed most;
- Continue efforts to reduce methane emissions from our natural gas infrastructure — for example, by replacing high-priority distribution pipe;
- Pursue disruptive technologies through a dynamic innovation process; and
- Continue to advance our customer-centric business model by offering innovative, sustainable solutions.
We are committed to doing our part to meet the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement. In accordance with the principles of We Are Still In, a nationwide coalition of government and business leaders that supports the Agreement, we will continue to support actions to meet its terms. We will also continue to respect and learn from the latest scientific evidence regarding the impacts of a warming climate as we implement measures to reduce our greenhouse-gas emissions.
From 2007 through 2017, our use of coal to generate electricity for customers fell from 46 percent to 15 percent. During the same period, our production of electricity from natural gas rose from 9 percent to 37 percent, and our capacity to produce electricity from renewable energy increased to 2,600 MW today in operation or development. Today, we have the fourth-largest utility-owned solar fleet in development and operation. 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.
Generation in the future will be more efficient, like the natural gas-fired power station in Greensville, Va., that began generating electricity for customers in December, 2018. Able to power 400,000 homes, it is the largest and most efficient natural gas power stations in the country — operating under the most stringent air permit in the United States with regard to carbon dioxide emissions.
Dominion Energy’s strategy is producing real results today. The company’s carbon emissions rate for our electric generating fleet is in the lowest-emitting 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. From 2000 through the end of 2017, we cut our carbon intensity — the amount of CO2 emitted per unit of energy — by 50 percent. We intend to further increase our reliance on cleaner generating technologies. Combining those with continued operation of our three nuclear power stations should reduce our carbon intensity by 60 percent by 2030.
Virginia Carbon Regulations
Pursuant to a gubernatorial executive directive requiring the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to develop “trading ready” regulations to reduce emissions from electric generating units in Virginia, in January 2018, the DEQ published for public comment a proposed state carbon regulation. The details of this proposal are still being developed for consideration by the Virginia State Air Pollution Control Board.
We believe that the company’s ongoing and planned further transition to a lower carbon emitting electric generation fleet will serve as a critical element in our planning for compliance under any future carbon reduction directive, whether at the Federal or state level, and we remain committed to working with our regulators and all stakeholders toward practical carbon reduction policies in Virginia and nationally that provide reasonable and actual reduction targets and timelines, flexible compliance options and keep fuel diversity, reliability and costs to customers top of mind.