Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Connecting the Dots on Dominion's Transmission Line Proposal

Have you been following the debate over Dominion Virginia Power's plan to build a 268-mile, $1.4 billion high-voltage transmission line through Virginia? It seems like there are very few people not employed by Dominion who think it's a good idea. At least, that's the impression that I got from this article.

You can't blame Dominion. In Virginia, Dominion's profits are based on how much energy it sells, so of course it wants more transmission lines to sell the most power produced at the lowest cost to Dominion (meaning coal). Some states are moving away from this model, rewarding utilities not based on how much power they sell but on how efficiently they meet the needs of customers. It's a concept known as decoupling.

I don't support the transmission line for several reasons. One is economic -- Dominion plans to pass all of the $1.4 billion cost to us. But more importantly, if we're going to cut our greenhouse gas emissions, we're not only going to need to cut our total power usage through energy efficiency, we need to look at ways to turn each building into a power generator through solar panels and individual wind power stations.

I'm less convinced by arguments that the transmission line will ruin views. If I'm going to make the case that wind farms are worth altering certain views, it would be hypocritical of me to turn around and accuse Dominion of view vandalism. And then there's the Daily Show's recent evisceration of Cape Wind opponents.

So what can you do about it? Got this alert from the Virginia League of Conservation Voters Education Fund:

Dominion Power is asking Legislators to Support Another Environmentally Destructive Plan
Take Action! Tell Your Legislators: Don’t Endorse Dominion’s Plan

Dear Concerned Citizen,

Dominion Power is asking Legislators to Support Another Environmentally Destructive Plan
We have learned that Dominion Virginia Power and Allegheny Energy are actively soliciting support for a massive 500-kV transmission line that would cut through private land, park land, historic sites, historic districts, civil war battlefields, magnificent viewsheds and a high concentration of conservation easements. Dominion and Allegheny are asking Delegates, Senators and private citizens from all over the state to send letters to the State Corporation Commission in support of this ill-conceived proposal.

Tell Your Legislators: Don't Endorse Dominion's Plan
Ask your Legislators to respect the State Corporation Commission (SCC) process. This transmission line proposal is highly controversial and subject to an SCC proceeding (case # PUE-2007-00031) to determine whether or not it is necessary. So far, only Dominion and Allegheny's experts have been heard and evidentiary hearings do not begin until January of 2008. Please write your Legislator today and ask them not to take a position of support on the Dominion/Allegheny transmission line until both sides of the story have been heard.

There Are Better Ways to Guarantee Secure and Reliable Power
The environmental community has been unified in its opposition to this transmission line. Alternative solutions would better provide for the reliability and security of electricity supply without harming the residents, natural resources, history and scenic beauty of Virginia. For example, a recent study by Summit Blue Consulting stated that using pre-existing technologies and demand response methods, Virginia could easily reduce peak demand by 17% within the next ten years. Energy conservation and efficiency should be treated as the first resource to meet Virginia's energy needs and are a key component in reducing mercury, CO2 and other harmful emissions.

To find out more about the transmission line fight, visit
our website.
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