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Sierra Club Slams Dominion as Obstacle to Clean Energy Jobs in Virginia

Yesterday, the Maryland state Public Service Commission approved two offshore wind projects totaling 368 megawatts of power. Dominion Energy has failed in develop its lease for offshore wind, an affordable and reliable renewable energy resource, in a timely manner here in Virginia.

"Dominion's monopoly position and its self-dealing reliance on fracked gas is costing Virginia jobs and exacerbating sea-level rise," Eileen Levandoski, assistant director of the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, said.

Dominion acquired a lease from the federal government four years ago to develop 2000 MW of offshore wind power, enough to power 700,000 Virginia homes. A 2016 report from Virginia Tech and the American Jobs Project indicated that the emerging offshore wind industry could create as many as 14,000 career jobs in Virginia.

Dominion has failed to move forward on any action on this lease. The corporation’s failure to move forward on a 12 MW pilot project in a timely manner cost the company $40 million in grant funds last May. The Department of Energy, which issued the grant, rescinded their funds Dominion would not commit to building the project by 2020, three years after the original deadline.

"It is more and more evident that Dominion is a drag on Virginia's clean energy economy, costing us thousands of jobs in solar, wind and efficiency investments," Levandoski said. "We need to dramatically reduce carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels to address climate change yet Dominion still has no plans to cuts its total carbon emissions over the next 25 years.”

There is a scientific consensus to reduce carbon pollution from fossil fuels by 80 percent by 2050 to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. Hampton Roads is already second only to New Orleans in its vulnerability to sea-level rise.  

"We firmly believe Dominion's foot dragging in developing renewable energy resources is directly related to its inherent conflict of interest as one of the nation's largest natural gas companies," observed Ivy Main, Renewable Energy Chair for the Virginia Sierra Club. Earlier this week, the Sierra Club petitioned the Virginia State Corporation Commission to examine this self-dealing by Dominion Energy in selling gas to itself to justify the Atlantic Coast Pipeline it proposes to build.

“Virginia has an opportunity to be a mid-Atlantic hub for offshore wind development and for the thousands of manufacturing and construction jobs linked to this clean energy industry”, said Zach Jarjoura, Sierra Club Hampton Roads program manager. “Governor McAuliffe, the General Assembly and local elected leaders should push Dominion to realize this part of Virginia’s clean energy potential.”

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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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