We have cut methane emissions substantially by investing in new infrastructure, changing our maintenance programs, and deploying new technology.
We track our progress closely, measure more thoroughly than regulations require, participate in voluntary methane-reduction programs, and pursue further reductions made possible by hydrogen and renewable natural gas.
Dominion Energy has made significant progress in reducing methane emissions from natural gas
infrastructure. From 2010 to 2020, we have cut methane emissions 32%. Replacing infrastructure,
improving systems, and pursuing a wide range of voluntary initiatives have cut methane emissions
In 2020, the company committed to a net zero framework. Dominion Energy expects to decrease methane emissions from our natural gas infrastructure 65% by 2030 and 80% by 2040, from 2010 levels. Further, the company has committed to invest in carbon-beneficial RNG projects that will capture an amount of methane from U.S. farms at least equivalent to any remaining methane and carbon dioxide emissions from the company’s natural gas operations, making Dominion Energy’s gas infrastructure operations effectively net zero 10 years before the overall company.
Also in 2020, Dominion Energy sold the majority of its gas transmission and storage business to Berkshire Hathaway Energy and announced the 2021 sale of Questar Pipeline assets. For more on how this affects our emissions reporting, see the “Looking Forward” section of this report.
Dominion Energy has been at the forefront of efforts to reduce methane emissions. The company has
been a founding member or leading participant in the EPA’s Natural Gas STAR (NgSTAR) Program, the
EPA’s Methane Challenge Program, the Natural Gas Sustainability Initiative (NGSI), and the ONE Future
Coalition. We are working to reduce not only our Scope 1 emissions from our natural gas business, but our
Scope 3 emissions as well.
For Scope 1 — emissions from our own operations — we use four different approaches:
- Reducing or eliminating gas venting during planned maintenance and inspections. To reduce operational venting, the company uses pressure-reduction protocols and innovative equipment to limit, capture, recycle, and reuse methane emissions where feasible. For instance, we use Zero Emissions Vacuum and Compression (ZEVAC®) technology to capture natural gas before maintenance or inspection so it can be recycled.
- Replacing targeted infrastructure and equipment with new, lower-emission equipment. For example, Dominion Energy West Virginia is replacing more than 1,000 miles of its gas distribution system. With the approval of state regulators, we plan to accelerate the timeline for our Pipeline Replacement and Expansion Program (PREP), ending it in 2047.
- Expanding leak detection and repair programs. Dominion Energy Ohio uses a voluntary Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) system to detect minor emissions sources. In North and South Carolina, we have implemented voluntary LDAR programs for gas facilities. It also has adopted a high-risk excavator monitoring program to reduce fugitive emissions from pipeline damage.
- Innovation. For example, we are using Pipetel in-line inspection robots to inspect gas pipelines not accessible through our usual smart pigging process.
Continued improvements such as these are enhancing our environmental performance. From 2019 to 2020, Dominion Energy Ohio increased savings of methane emissions that would have otherwise been released into the atmosphere, by 24%. For Scope 3 — emissions from our customers and suppliers — we are seeking legislative and/or regulatory approval for a variety of approaches. These include:
- Soliciting emissions disclosures from suppliers, promoting the adoption of net-zero policies, and building coalitions with industry peers.
- Empowering customers to lower their GHG footprints through efficiency programs such as weatherization and industrial audits and offering a carbon calculator so that customers can better understand how to reduce their carbon emissions.
- Offering our GreenTherm program, which supports the use of RNG, through all our local distribution companies.
- Supplying RNG to compressed-natural-gas fueling stations in North Carolina and Utah.
Already, we have met with state commissions to educate them about our gas distribution sustainability strategy, and we are working with developers, regulators, and legislators in each of our operating states to develop RNG tariffs and incentives. These efforts will continue.
Progress to Date
From 2010 to 2020, Dominion Energy has cut methane emissions 32% from our natural gas business in just
a decade, far better than the industry average.
Since 2010, Dominion Energy has prevented potential methane emissions from entering the atmosphere by replacing infrastructure, improving processes and systems, pursuing a wide range of voluntary initiatives, investing in innovation, and striving towards best-in-class technical excellence. These cumulative savings efforts have resulted in preventing 307,200 metric tons of methane from entering the atmosphere, which is equivalent to taking 1.7 million non-EV cars off the road for a year, or planting approximately 127 million new trees.
Dominion Energy Methane Savings (Since 2010)
In Utah, we launched ThermH2, a hydrogen blending test pilot, that uses a simulated small town to analyze the effect of blending hydrogen into the natural-gas distribution system. The first pilot project is underway at the company's Training Academy in Utah. The company is blending 5% hydrogen in a test system to learn how hydrogen works in gas lines and appliances before blending it into the larger system that serves more than 1 million gas utility customers in Utah. The company is exploring a similar pilot in North Carolina.
Dominion Energy reports emissions of carbon and methane, as well as other greenhouse gases from its natural gas and electric generation facilities to the EPA under the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program rule. But we don’t stop there. As part of our commitment to transparency, we voluntarily disclose emissions from additional sources not required to be reported to EPA in our Corporate Methane Inventory. See the Methane Emissions Reduction Appendix for further details.