November 17, 2013

How green is Virginia's power?

Not very, even though the EPA gave Dominion Power a green award a while back. Perhaps they were duped by Dominion's claim that they have more than 19,000 green customers. Oops, look closer.

Virginia's Sierra Club points out that Dominion's "Green Power" program purchases solar and wind produced power predominately from outside of Virginia and that they charge a 50 percent "overhead" charge as well. So half of the money their customers contribute for renewable energy certificates goes to education and overhead? That sounds like a lighter shade of pale green to me. Millions of dollars given to Dominion in good faith has resulted in no windor solar facilities in Virginia. So Sierra Club has teamed up with Community Power Network to challenge this award and ask EPA to revoke it. The only achievement by Dominion is that have signed up more customers for this dubious practice than other utility programs. That, my friends, is an award in marketing!

Meanwhile, back at headquarters, Dominion's latest "integrated resource plan" focuses on more fossil fuel consumption over the next fifteen years. That is adding insult to injury.

And there is more. Dominion's "solar purchase program" allows them to buy solar power from homeowners or businesses and resell it to their Green Power Program, adding to the actual cost of that program. Sounds like a dicey business practice to me, but the State Corporation Commission approved it. 

And I will never comprehend the rational behind Dominion charging customers who "net meter" a standby charge because they are energy efficient.

What to do? Consider the actions below:

The Virginia Center for Wind Energy at James Madison University accepts donations to its Wind for Schools program, which helps public schools across the commonwealth install wind turbines for educational purposes. A new non-profit, Three Birds Foundation, is working to put solar on public schools that serve low-income children in Virginia and elsewhere.