On energy issues, our state’s elected leaders, including the governor, are minions of Dominion Resources.
We have been asked to explain the July 24 “March on the Mansion” in near 100-degree temperatures by over 600 citizens from all over the commonwealth.
Why protest against a Democratic governor who acknowledges global warming and has stated his commitment to lead Virginia from fossil fuel dependency to renewable energy? Because this rhetoric is belied by tokenism. Here are two examples of McAuliffe championing Virginia’s powerful fossil fuel industry while “going green.”
First, McAuliffe has mislead the public in claiming Virginia will be dependent on methane gas for decades. Not true. U.S. reliance on fossil fuels will end in less than one decade because the demand for them is peaking and there has been a precipitous decline in the price of wind, solar and efficient battery storage (“The World Nears Peak Fossil Fuels for Electricity,” Bloomberg, June 2016; “Wind and Solar are Crushing Fossil Fuels,” Bloomberg, April 2016).
Why then is there a push to spend billions for fracked gas infrastructure in Virginia? Because Dominion Virginia Power controls Virginia’s energy policies (“Southeastern Electric Utilities Find Their Way to Higher Profits Through Gas Pipelines and Captive Consumers,” July 2016, Power for the People VA; “Dominion wields influence with political contributions, charitable donations,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, February 2015; “Governor Signs Bill to Freeze Dominion Rates, Suspend Reviews,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, February 2015).
Dominion is both the seller and buyer of Marcellus methane shipped to its gas-fired electricity plants, creating a conflict of interest: an incentive to provide a product Virginia increasingly no longer needs. Dominion has been granted a guaranteed rate of return regardless of market decline and it has been permitted to pass on the costs of construction to its customers. What’s not to like for Dominion?
What is good for Dominion is not necessarily good for Virginia. Dominion sees its interest in draining the Marcellus solely for corporate profit while knowing this will contribute to global warming and certain catastrophic climate disruption for Virginia (“A Bridge Too Far: How Appalachian Basin Gas Pipeline Expansion Will Undermine U.S. Climate Goals,” Oil Change International, July 2016; Virginia Climate Fever by Stephen Nash, 2014).
Second, McAuliffe and other minions promote an antiquated, unnecessary and undesirable state monopoly of Virginia’s electric power by its two largest utilities, Dominion and AEP. They support extending these monopolies to renewable energy through the construction of large-scale wind and solar farms. These installations would be welcome if it were not for the small print that benefits utilities at the expense of consumers:
These large farms are projected to supply less than 2 percent of Virginia’s energy needs for decades longer than will be necessary, until drilling the Marcellus is no longer profitable.
Current state laws discourage competition from independent, roof-top solar businesses. These typically smaller, labor-intensive firms would create far more jobs for Virginia than the temporary work to create solar and wind farms or to build pipelines, and the competition they would generate would lower energy bills for consumers.
A recent study comparing different models for Virginia to comply with the Clean Power Plan concludes: Compared with Dominion’s strategy, the Commonwealth could create thousands more jobs by diversifying its energy portfolio with fewer gas fired plants and a greater mix of renewable energy, along with greater energy efficiencies (“Assessing Virginia’s Energy Future: Employment Impacts of Clean Power Plan Compliance Scenarios,” Prepared by the Meister Consultants Group for AEE, 2015). This conclusion assumes that Virginia will stop importing 40 percent of is energy (mostly methane) from out-of-state.
AEP, like Dominion, is dangerously lagging in alternative energy investment and lobbies for laws to limit competition from third-party roof-top solar firms (“Appalachian Power To Explores Solar Energy; Some Urge More Development,” WVTF, November 2015; “Appalachian Power’s Solar Program Would Leave Southwest Virginia in the Dark,” Roanoke Times, September 2015).
Governor, Dominion’s power plan for Virginia is a job killer, not a job creator. Have you read the Key-Log reports on the economic costs of the MVP and ACP (“Reason for Caution: Mountain Valley Economic Studies Overestimate Benefits, Downplay Costs,” Key-Log Economics, October 2015; “The Economic Costs of the Mountain Valley Pipeline: Effects on Property Value, Ecosystem Services, and Economic Development in Virginia and West Virginia,” Key-Log Economics, May 2016)?
Why did Dominion contribute far more to your gubernatorial campaign than to your Republican opponent, Ken Cuccinelli?
Stop using the bully pulpit of your office to promote Dominion’s interest over the public’s.