Emissions-free nuclear power accounted for 44% of our electricity output in 2011.
Dominion is fully committed to meeting the carbon challenge responsibly by working for a sustainable solution that balances the interdependent goals of environmental stewardship and economic prosperity.
Since 2007, when the climate change debate in Congress began in earnest, Dominion has supported comprehensive, economy-wide federal legislation that caps greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and creates a market for trading emission allowances.
We believe that a national climate change policy should be developed legislatively, together with a sound national energy policy that provides for fuel diversity, a reliable energy supply and affordable electric service. This policy should promote the development and deployment of technology-based solutions, including renewable energy, advanced nuclear, natural gas and clean coal technologies, as well as energy efficiency, conservation and demand-side management programs.
The 112th Congress has not passed legislation to control GHGs from their three major sources – electric power production, manufacturing and transportation. However, federal regulatory action has continued to move forward. We intend to remain actively engaged with the EPA and others to work for cost-effective approaches that would provide industry with compliance flexibility and regulatory certainty.
In 2011, Dominion joined the Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC) of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), formerly the Pew Center for Global Climate Change. We endorse C2ES’s mission to ensure that energy is safe, reliable, and affordable for all, and we support efforts to develop consensus-based solutions that address global climate issues.
The company is an active participant in two BELC initiatives, the Power Sector 2030 Dialogue, which is studying GHG emissions trends in the industry and projecting future demand and potential conservation/energy efficiency impacts by 2030; and a project exploring opportunities to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by increasing the use of natural gas in the power, transportation and manufacturing sectors of the economy.
Dominion has an integrated strategy for reducing GHG emission intensity with diversification as its cornerstone. The four principal components of the strategy include initiatives that address energy management, energy production and energy delivery as follows:
- Enhance conservation and energy efficiency programs to help customers use energy wisely and reduce environmental impacts.
- Expand our renewable energy portfolio, principally wind power and biomass, to help diversify our fleet, meet state renewable energy targets and lower our carbon footprint.
- Build other new generating capacity, including emissions-free nuclear, carbon-capture-compatible clean coal and low-emissions natural gas-fired units to meet our customers’ future electricity needs.
- Construct new electric transmission infrastructure to modernize the grid, promote economic security and help deliver more green energy to population centers where it is needed most.
Minimizing Carbon Intensity
Dominion continues to be among the top third of the nation’s 100 largest power producers in minimizing carbon intensity.
The 2010 CERES and Natural Resources Defense Council air emissions study found that Dominion produced 1,089 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per megawatt-hour (mWh) of electric output in 2008 – about 27 percent below the industry median of 1,489 pounds CO2 per mWh.
We attribute this achievement to the balance and diversity of our fuel mix, combined with sustained productivity improvements at our power stations and a growing reliance on conservation and efficiency programs.
Improved Efficiency Helps Lower Carbon Intensity
Our generation fleet uses a mix of fossil fuels, uranium and renewable energy sources. We began tracking fleet emissions in 2000. From 2000 to 2010, our company-owned generating stations reduced their average CO2 emissions rate per unit of output by about 21 percent. During that same time period, the generating capacity of our fleet increased by 53 percent.
Improving the efficiency of our existing utility fleet has been a strategic focus over the past several years. Efficiency improvements allow us to squeeze more power out of our units while using roughly the same amount of fuel – and avoiding additional atmospheric emissions – a plus for our customers and for the environment.
These generating unit upgrades are known as “uprates” in the industry. They are achieved by installing larger, state-of-the-art power turbines or advanced instrumentation devices, for example, to allow for more efficient and accurate operations.
From 2009 to 2011, unit uprates added about 172 megawatts of net generating capacity to our utility fleet, providing us with a cost-effective way to help meet the electricity needs of about 43,000 typical Virginia households.