RICHMOND- This past Monday concerned Virginians launched a full week of picketing at Dominion Virginia Power's Richmond offices to protest what they have dubbed "Dominion's $76 Million Rip-off." Customers are denouncing a $76 million bonus that Dominion is claiming from customers under the state's voluntary renewable energy goal-despite bringing zero wind or solar power to Virginia.
In 2007, Virginia lawmakers created a voluntary Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to reward utilities with a financial bonus for meeting minimum renewable energy investment goals. Dominion is meeting the weak, technical requirements of this law through energy generated at decades-old hydro-electric dams and trash- and wood-burning facilities, many of which are outside of the state.
Picketers demanded that Dominion earn the bonus by investing in clean, renewable wind and solar energy in Virginia so that their customers can reap the benefits of cleaner air and new jobs. New polling, commissioned from We Ask America and released today, shows sixty-three percent of Virginians want to see utilities prioritize the development of solar or wind power to meet the state's renewable energy goal, as opposed to burning trash and wood or using hydropower dams.
Glen Besa, Virginia Chapter Director for the Sierra Club said, "Dominion has the opportunity to make Virginia a clean energy leader. Powering our homes and businesses with clean wind and solar energy will mean healthier air and thousands of new jobs for Virginia's families. It's time for Dominion to build clean, renewable energy here in Virginia where their customers will earn the benefits, not continue to scam us with outdated and out-of-state energy purchases."
Beth Kemler, Virginia State Director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said, "Dominion is playing a shell game-taking an unearned bonus in the name of renewable energy while actively keeping Virginians locked into decades of fossil fuel pollution. The commonwealth's leaders should join the call of the Virginians here today and demand that Dominion bring truly clean wind and solar energy online in the commonwealth."
Each day of the week-long protest, picketers will deliver sets of hundreds of petitions to Dominion CEO Thomas Farrell and highlight a different set of impacts Virginians face from Dominion's continued heavy reliance on fossil fuels-including air pollution and asthma, extreme weather and sea-level rise caused by climate change, damage from mountaintop removal, and lost clean energy jobs and opportunities for new industries. On Saturday, protestors will gather for a larger rally to cap off the week of action.
"Burning coal raises particulates that cause strokes, heart attacks and other life-threatening events," said Catherine Thomasson, MD, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility. "Ending our fossil fuel reliance will make us more energy independent and help reduce the health threats of climate change."
Samantha Corron, a student leader in the Virginia Alliance for a Cleaner Environment, hopes investments in utility-scale wind and solar will curb the worst impacts of climate change and provide much-needed jobs for her generation. "As my classmates and I prepare for graduation, those who are interested in joining one of the fastest-growing sectors of our economy-clean technology-will have to leave Virginia to do so. Dominion is holding Virginians back from the clean energy future we need and want to see," said Corron.
According to Dominion's 15-year Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), the company plans to continue developing fossil fuel power plants while largely ignoring renewable energy for the foreseeable future. The company's plan calls for only 33 megawatts (MW) of Virginia-made solar power by the year 2027-a stark contrast to the 5,075 MW of new dirty energy that dominates the plan.
"Dominion is taking our money intended for renewable energy and sending it, along with potential jobs, out of state. Instead, our leaders should be forcing Dominion, the state's largest utility, to build more clean wind and solar energy here in Virginia. Dominion's continued reliance on fossil fuels is not just bad for our health, but bad for our economy," said Scott Price with Richmond-based Alliance for Progressive Values.
The week of action to stand up to Dominion's $76 million rip-off and call for wind and solar energy in Virginia is sponsored by the Alliance for Progressive Values, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, and the Virginia Alliance for a Cleaner Environment.
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