Concerned about our Local ENVIRONMENT?

Wondering About the Pipeline In Chesapeake?

Mary Lou Burke of the Hampton Roads Green Party has compiled some valuable information and resources as well as an update on current local issues in January 2019.

The Sierra Club (https://www.sierraclub.org/home) is a national organization that advocates for environmental causes. The Virginia Chapter (https://www.sierraclub.org/virginia) produces a newsletter, the Virginia Sierran.  There are several items in the Winter 2018-2019 edition of interest to Chesapeake readers:

  1. Opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, also called the ACP, continues. Recent court cases have vacated key permits for construction of this pipeline, at least temporarily while Dominion Power appeals its way to the Supreme Court or unless there is some type of intervention from Congress, “two enormous new hurdles for a controversial project whose price continues to balloon.” This affects Chesapeake because a portion of the ACP will go through Deep Creek down to the Elizabeth River if this pipeline is completed. It also affects us all as ratepayers. Under Virginia law, ratepayers pay for construction of the pipeline, while investors reap any profits. According to the Southern Environmental Law Center:

Dominion Energy and Duke Energy are rushing forward with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline even though it lacks strong market support, and they plan to pass the cost of this pipeline on to their customers. This unnecessary pipeline will not only harm the mountains, forests and waterways in its path – it will also disrupt the lives of the people living and working along its 600 mile long route and lock a new generation into decades more of fossil fuel consumption (https://www.southernenvironment.org/cases-and-projects/proposed-natural-gas-pipeline-threatens-scenic-western-virginia).

 

The Virginia Sierran unfortunately made no mention of Dominion subsidiary Virginia Natural Gas’s project, the Southside Connector. The safety and environmental concerns remind me very much of the opposition to this high-pressure gas transmission line by Colonna’s Shipyard and other members of the 757 Pipeline Safety Coalition. This pipeline endangers schools, businesses, and residences in Chesapeake and Norfolk. More information about this project is available at the 757PSC website (http://757psc.org/) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/757PSC/). The Facebook pages links to a YouTube video series by a nationally-recognized, independent pipeline safety expert who shares serious reservations about the route of the Southside Connector.

 

  1. Coal ash is one of the Sierra Club’s legislative focuses at the upcoming Virginia General Assembly short session, according to an article by Bob Shippee. Chesapeake’s Elizabeth River in the Deep Creek area is being polluted by a coal ash pond from a former power station that Dominion Energy once operated. The Sierra Club supports ash excavation and recycling or removal inland to a dry, lined storage pit. The “ash should not be allowed to remain in place” due to documented groundwater contamination.

 

  1. Bob Shippee writes that Solar power is another Sierra Club priority during the short session. “Virginia law currently includes numerous impediments to distributed solar.” Distributed solar allows homes and businesses to produce their own power. In case of a major hurricane, distributed solar may be a more reliable source of energy, too, judging by the performance of solar power in Wilmington, N.C., after Hurricane Florence (https://insideclimatenews.org/news/20092018/hurricane-florence-solar-panel-energy-resilience-extreme-weather-damage-wind-flooding)

 

  1. Speaking of solar, an article by Ruth Amundsen noted that there are ways that churches and non-profit organizations can find “zero cost solar opportunities,” and that the best time to do this will be through the end of 2019 due to upcoming changes in federal tax credits. Options to do this are an “LLC of investors (or single investor),” “Request for proposal to commercial installer,” “Financing through installer,” “Systems owned by taxable entity,” and “Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund.” I know the Unity Renaissance Church in Chesapeake has gone solar through one of these options and has been very happy with the result (https://unityrenaissance.org/). Another Virginia Sierran article by Ivy Main mentions that Dominion Energy is beginning to offer solar power options to customers, although at a “premium cost” of an additional 2.01 cents per kilowatt-hour. Businesses wanting to advertise they use renewable energy may want to take advantage of Dominion’s solar while we ratepayers work on our legislators to remove the “impediments to distributed solar.”