Resource Conservation & Recycling
Reusing resources and reducing waste makes good business sense, and it is the right thing to do. We are committed to minimizing the waste we create and to handling and disposing 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, 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 tracking this data in 2010, and comprehensive 2010-2014 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 2014, our Asset Investment Recovery group was able to recycle about 41 million pounds of scrap metals from electric transformers, wire and cable, circuit breakers and other scrap equipment – an increase of about 12 percent from the previous year.
At our natural gas transmission and distribution businesses, we recycled close to 9 million pounds of surplus steel pipes, valves, flanges and other materials. In addition to what we recycle, the company also donates pipe and related materials to community and technical colleges in West Virginia for use in welding classes and for other training purposes.
Coal Combustion Residuals
A variety of coal combustion residuals (CCRs) are created when coal is burned to generate electricity. The primary CCRs include coal ash, bottom ash, and flue gas desulfurization sludge.
CCRs are typically stored in surface impoundments, in dry landfills, or recycled for reuse in a variety of commercial applications. Beneficial reuse of coal ash occurs in encapsulated products such as cement and concrete, dry wall, roofing shingles and plastics.
Reuse of coal ash also has environmental benefits, including a reduction in greenhouse gases. For each ton of coal ash used in place of traditional cement, about one ton less of carbon dioxide is produced – the rough equivalent of what one automobile emits in two months.
In 2014, Dominion’s fossil fleet produced about 3.6 million tons of CCRs, excluding gypsum. More than 70 percent of Dominion’s CCRs were disposed on site or at an off-site CCR landfill. Approximately 1.1 million tons, or almost 30 percent, of CCRs were used in 2014 to replace higher value or “beneficially reused” materials off site.
Coal Ash Regulation by EPA
In April 2015, the EPA’s final rule governing CCRs was published in the Federal Register. The rule regulates new and existing coal ash landfills and surface impoundments at electric utilities, including both “inactive” surface impoundments that may not be receiving CCRs, but which still store CCRs and liquids at an active facility, regardless of the facility’s fuel type.
The coal ash rule includes requirements for design, inspections, monitoring and disclosure.
In April 2015, Dominion announced its plans to close all of its coal ash impoundments. Most of this work will be completed within three years. By closing these facilities, the company will be in full compliance with current state laws and regulations, as well as the new federal regulation – all of which are designed to protect human health and the environment. The EPA’s final rule encourages early closure of ash ponds within three years, and Dominion plans to follow this guideline wherever possible.
Ongoing groundwater monitoring at these facilities has not identified any threats to human health or to the environment. In the future, we will continue to closely monitor groundwater in the vicinity of the closed impoundments in a manner that protects the public and is consistent with regulatory requirements.
In keeping with state regulations, we perform annual dam integrity inspections of our impoundments using registered, professional dam safety engineers. These inspections help ensure that our dams are performing as designed; that there are no visible signs of compromised integrity; and that proper maintenance is being performed. In addition to annual integrity inspections, trained site environmental personnel perform quarterly visual inspections of the ponds, checking for conditions such as erosion, animal burrow holes and water level fluctuations – any of which could indicate the need for more detailed inspections or corrective measures.
For many years, employee volunteer teams across the company have participated in environmental projects in the communities we serve. Examples include projects to clean up public highways and parks and recycle plastics and aluminum cans, planting native vegetation and removing invasive species. 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.
Recycling Conserves Resources
In 2014, we recycled 71 tons of aluminum, cardboard and paper, scrap metals, plastics, wood pallets and glass. Together, these initiatives helped conserve the following resources:
1,128 mature trees
Enough saved timber to produce 13,971,100 sheets of newsprint
286 yards of landfill space
Enough to meet the annual disposal needs of 367 people
121,953 kilowatt-hours of electricity
Enough power to meet the annual needs of 11 homes
402,150 gallons of water
Enough to meet the daily needs of 5,362 people
280 metric tons of avoided GHG emissions
Equivalent to the annual GHG emissions produced by 59 automobiles