Resource Conservation & Recycling
Reusing resources and reducing waste makes good business sense, and it is the right thing to do. Consistent with the value we place in ethical and excellent performance, we strive to minimize the waste we create and to handle and dispose of it responsibly. We also actively seek opportunities to recycle and reuse waste materials.
Data Collection and Measurement
Goals and measurement processes are in place to help us understand and manage our waste footprint and energy use at company facilities. Improved data collection methodologies, especially in regard to our internal energy usage, will help us track and report our annual progress. The company’s recycling and reuse activities and results have been reported annually since 1994 through the U.S. EPA’s WasteWise program.
We have collected detailed data about company electricity consumption since 2008. We began reporting this data to the Carbon Disclosure Project in 2010, and comprehensive 2011, 2012 and 2013 data is available in this report. (See 5-Year Summary Performance Table.)
Managing Our Energy Footprint
We have implemented a number of initiatives at various company locations to reduce our energy footprint. Some examples include:
- Preventive maintenance programs to keep equipment in peak condition and delay replacements
- Energy Management Systems to control lighting and HVAC systems after hours and reduce overall energy use
- Installation of solar window film and reflective roofs to decrease heat infiltration and increase the efficiency of air conditioning operations
- Adoption of LEED-certified “green” building standards at three locations
- Installation of light sensor-activated switches and timers in selected rooms and public spaces
- Replacement of incandescent lighting in buildings, garages and warehouses with high-efficiency Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lights and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)
- Partnering with green vendors to recycle thousands of used company computers, monitors and printers to keep them out of public landfills
- Implementing “single stream” recycling of co-mingled glass, papers and plastics
In 2013, our Asset Investment Recovery group was able to recycle about 33 million pounds of scrap metals from electric transformers, wire and cable, circuit breakers and other scrap equipment. This recycled scrap returned approximately $9 million to the various business units that submitted them.
At our natural gas transmission business, we recycled more than 7.4 million pounds of surplus steel pipes, valves, flanges and other materials.
For many years, employee volunteer teams have participated in projects to clean up public highways and parks and recycle plastics and aluminum cans. Through school mentoring programs, our volunteers also teach young people the importance of resource conservation. Employee-initiated projects also have created opportunities to collect and recycle oils, solvents and other liquid substances used in our operations.
Coal Combustion Byproducts (CCBs)
A variety of coal combustion byproducts (CCBs) are created when coal is burned to generate electricity. The primary CCBs include fly ash, bottom ash, and flue gas desulfurization sludge.
CCBs are typically stored in ash ponds on site, in dry landfills, or recycled for reuse in a variety of commercial applications. Beneficial reuse of CCBs occurs in such products as cement and concrete, dry wall, roofing shingles, plastics, and specialty paints.
Dominion takes every precaution to ensure that its ash facilities are operated properly and in compliance with all applicable state and federal regulations. Our facilities are visually inspected quarterly by station environmental personnel and annually by our corporate dam safety engineers. In addition, station operators perform a regular visual inspection to check for any unusual conditions.
Following the Dan River incident in North Carolina, Dominion is conducting a thorough review of all of its active and inactive facilities and dams to determine if any conditions exist that are similar to those that caused the Dan River spill. As part of this review, we have verified that there are no storm drainage pipes running under Dominion’s ash ponds. We are also inspecting all piping associated with the operation of these facilities to ensure their structural integrity.
In 2013, Dominion’s fossil fleet produced about 3.8 million tons of CCBs, excluding gypsum. About 60 percent of Dominion’s CCBs were disposed on site or at an off-site CCB landfill. Approximately 1.1 million tons, or about 29 percent, of CCBs were used in 2013 to replace higher value or “beneficially reused” materials off site.
In 2010, the EPA proposed a rule that would create a federal regulatory program for coal ash residuals. We expect the final rulemaking for coal ash residuals to be completed by the end of 2014.
Station Recycling Helps Clean Streams
Since beginning commercial operation in July 2012, the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center in Wise County, Va., has recycled nearly 1.1 million tons of waste coal, in keeping with our commitment to help clean environmental hot spots in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia.
The waste coal, also called "gob," is piled along miles of streams and rivers in the region. Left over from earlier coal mining, it is a source of metals and other contaminants that leach into local waterways. Gob is mostly rock and lower BTU coal that mining operations discarded in the early to mid-1900s. Prior to regulations on how to handle gob, the material simply piled up, often along stream beds. There are literally hundreds of gob piles throughout the central Appalachian coalfields.
The pile, which contained more than 1 million tons of gob, is expected to disappear completely as it is used for fuel at VCHEC by the end of 2014. At that time, actual reclamation of the land and the stream bed can begin.