Dominion is fully committed to meeting the carbon challenge responsibly by working for a sustainable solution that balances the interdependent goals of environmental stewardship and economic prosperity.
We believe that a national climate change policy should be developed legislatively, together with a sound national energy policy that provides for fuel diversity, a reliable energy supply and affordable electric service. This policy should promote the development and deployment of technology-based solutions, including renewable energy, advanced nuclear, natural gas and clean coal technologies, as well as energy efficiency, conservation and demand-side management programs.
In recent years, Congress has not considered legislation to control GHGs from the three major domestic sources – electric power production, manufacturing and transportation. However, federal regulatory action has continued to move forward. We intend to remain actively engaged with the EPA and others to work for cost-effective and technologically feasible approaches that would provide industry with compliance flexibility and regulatory certainty.
Progress Through Partnership
In 2011, Dominion joined the Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC) of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), formerly the Pew Center for Global Climate Change. We endorse C2ES’s mission to ensure that energy is safe, reliable, and affordable for all, and we support efforts to develop consensus-based solutions that address global climate issues.
We are actively participating in two BELC initiatives:
- The Power Sector 2030 Dialogue, which is studying GHG emissions trends in the industry and projecting future demand and potential conservation/energy efficiency impacts by 2030; and
- A project exploring opportunities to reduce GHG emissions by increasing the use of natural gas in the power, transportation and manufacturing sectors of the economy. This project recently concluded with a report issued by C2ES and the University of Texas, titled “Leveraging Natural Gas to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions.”
Dominion has an integrated strategy for reducing GHG emission intensity. The cornerstone of the strategy is diversification. Its five principal components include initiatives that address energy management, energy production and energy delivery as follows:
- Enhance conservation and energy efficiency programs to help customers use energy wisely and reduce environmental impacts
- Expand our renewable energy portfolio including wind power, solar, fuel-cell and biomass to help diversify our fleet, meet state renewable energy targets and lower our carbon footprint
- Build other new generating capacity including emissions-free nuclear and carbon-capture-compatible clean coal and low-emissions natural gas-fired and fuel cell units to meet future electricity needs
- Construct new electric transmission infrastructure to modernize the grid, promote economic security and help deliver more green energy to population centers where it is needed most
- Divest or close uneconomic coal units which for market reasons or regulatory costs are unable to operate efficiently
Minimizing Carbon Intensity
Dominion continues to be among the top third of the nation’s 100 largest power producers in minimizing carbon intensity.
A 2013 air emissions study produced by M.J. Bradley & Associates LLC found that Dominion produced 908 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per megawatt-hour (mWh) of electric output in 2011 – about 35 percent below the industry median of 1,403 pounds CO2 per mWh.
We attribute this achievement to the balance and diversity of our fuel mix, combined with sustained productivity improvements at our power stations and a growing reliance on conservation and efficiency programs.
Improved Efficiency Helps Lower Carbon Intensity
Our generation fleet uses a mix of fossil fuels, uranium and renewable energy sources. We began tracking fleet emissions in 2000. From 2000 to 2012, our company-owned generating stations reduced their average CO2 emissions rate per unit of output by about 39 percent. During that same time period, the generating capacity of our fleet increased by 41 percent.
Improving the efficiency of our existing utility fleet has been a strategic focus over the past several years. Efficiency improvements allow us to squeeze more power out of our units while using roughly to same amount of fuel – and avoiding additional atmospheric emissions – a plus for our customers and for the environment.
These generating unit upgrades are known as “uprates” in the industry. They are achieved by installing larger, state-of-the-art power turbines or advanced instrumentation devices, for example, to allow for more efficient and accurate operations.
From 2009 to 2012, unit uprates added about 172 megawatts of net generating capacity to our utility fleet, providing us with a cost-effective way to help meet the electricity needs of about 43,000 typical Virginia households.
Methane Research Project
The U.S. EPA estimates that natural gas transmission and storage activities account for about 7.5 percent of all domestic methane emissions. Methane is the primary component of natural gas and is considered a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Dominion is partnering in a nationwide field study led by Colorado State University to quantify methane emissions from natural gas pipeline and storage systems. As part of the study, we will provide historic emissions and operating data to complement measurements taken by the research team during the second half of 2013. Study results are expected to be released during the first half of 2014.