In recent days, there’s been a plenty of discussion about renewable energy. After I wrote two posts, Chester “Chet” Wade, a senior spokesman for Dominion Resources, called me to take issue with some of my ideas. I offered him space to explain Dominion’s views. Here is his response:
Your follow-up column has the same shortcoming as the first one. They both ignore the facts that don’t support your conclusion.
We discussed a lot of issues on the phone. As I said, my point on contributions was that you were being selective in your reporting and unchallenging of the other side. We don’t mind being asked tough questions, but we think others should face the same level of scrutiny. That disparity seems to be present again.
Here are some of the other points you left out from our conversation, along with additional details:
Approximately half the electricity Dominion produced last year came from carbon-free nuclear and renewable sources. Our carbon intensity is among the best in the nation, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. At the same time our electric rates in Virginia are 14.7 percent below the national average, and our reliability is at an all-time high. All are important points to those who depend on us for their energy.
Dominion values renewable energy as part of a diverse, clean mix of power generation to provide reliable, affordable energy. For example, in Virginia, Dominion operates more renewable biomass than any other utility in the nation. We’ve invested in biomass, because it is cost effective and can run around the clock.
We’ve also invested in solar energy with our innovative Solar Partnership Program, and we are a leader in developing offshore wind. The U.S. Department of Energy awarded a Dominion-led team $47 million to develop a Virginia pilot project aimed at making offshore wind more affordable.
Dominion did not “squelch” the solar project at Washington & Lee, as you reported. We reached an agreement that allowed the project to go forward.
The Sierra Club’s “analysis” of renewable energy standards you cited is specious, at best. For example, it fails to mention that states with mandatory renewable portfolio standards also typically have significantly higher electricity prices.
And it does not mention that West Virginia has an alternative and renewable energy standard that counts natural gas, coal bed methane, waste coal, and pumped storage hydro. By that same standard, Dominion has more than 9,000 megawatts of alternative and renewable energy. And that total does not include wind or solar energy we have outside of Virginia.
Your column also touted West Virginia as a regional leader in wind production. What it missed is that we own 50 percent of West Virginia’s largest wind farm, paid for not by our utility customers but by our shareholders. On the other hand, an onshore wind project we proposed for Virginia withered with virtually no support from the Sierra Club.
Producing affordable, reliable and clean energy requires a balance. That balance was sadly missing from your column.