Speakers rail against Dominion Va. Power plans

Associated Press Modified: May 8, 2012 at 3:30 pm •  Published: May 8, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Dominion Virginia Power's long-range energy plans were criticized Tuesday for relying too heavily on fossil fuels at the expense of renewables such as wind and solar and energy efficiency.

Activists, grandparents, physicians and solar power producers were among the two dozen speakers at a hearing before the State Corporation Commission on the utility's integrated resource plan. The 15-year roadmap outlines how Virginia's largest utility intends to supply energy to its 2 million customers.

The company has said it expects electricity demand to increase by nearly 30 percent by 2026. It has proposed closing some coal-fired plants, which was praised by some speakers, while converting or adding more gas-fired power stations. It also lists a third reactor at its North Anna Power Station as a possibility, the conversion of three coal stations to biomass and energy conservation programs.

Still, speakers said, Dominion is investing too much in "dirty" energy and not enough in clean energy and efficiency.

"By adding solar and wind, we're going to be adding jobs. I think they need a nudge," Delegate Joseph Morrissey told commissioners, urging them to reject the plan.

Morrissey also delivered a letter from 13 fellow state legislators who echoed his sentiments. They cited a study that estimated an offshore wind industry in Virginia could create up to 10,000 jobs.

Commissioners heard from a suburban Richmond mother who said coal-fired plants had aggravated her son's asthma, from a northern Virginia physician who listed a litany of health risks related to burning fossil fuels and from activists pushing renewable energy.

"Wind and solar work. These are not experimental technologies anymore," said Scott Price, director of the Alliance for Progressive Values in Richmond. "We need to push more in the right direction."

Dominion, in a response provided to The Associated Press before the hearing, stressed that the plan is not cast in stone and is updated every two years to reflect changes in assumptions, load growth, market developments and other factors.

"Dominion Virginia Power and its sister companies have a broad array of renewable facilities in operation, under construction or in development with the potential to power more than 400,000 homes," the company said.

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