Utility sets goal of net-­zero emissions by mid-­century

February 12, 2020, 4:38PMNuclear News

Referencing the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as well as its own “strong history of environmental stewardship,” Dominion Energy on February 11 announced that it is expanding its greenhouse gas emission–reduction goals by pledging to achieve net-­zero emissions by 2050. The new goal covers emissions of carbon dioxide and methane—the two leading greenhouse gases—from the company’s electricity generation and gas infrastructure operations.

“Our mandate is to provide reliable and affordable energy safely,” said Thomas F. Farrell II, Dominion’s chairman, president, and chief executive officer. “We do that every day, all year long. But we recognize that we must also continue to be a leader in combatting climate change. . . . Dominion Energy already has made important progress on emissions. This new commitment sets an even higher bar that I am confident we can, and will, reach. Net-­zero emissions will be good for all of our stakeholders—for our customers, communities, employees, and investors.”

The company joins a growing list of utilities that have made the same or similar emission-­reduction commitments. Duke Energy, for instance, announced a goal of net-­zero emissions by 2050 last September (NN, Oct. 2019, p. 9), followed later the same month by DTE Energy.

Dominion had previously committed to reducing carbon emissions from its power generating facilities by 80 percent between 2005 and 2050 and to cutting methane emissions from its natural gas operations by 50 percent between 2010 and 2030. According to the company, it has lowered carbon emissions approximately 50 percent since 2005 and methane emissions by nearly 25 percent since 2010.

“Reducing emissions as fast as possible and achieving net-­zero emissions require immediate and direct action,” the Dominion announcement stated. “That is why the company is moving to extend licenses for its zero-­carbon nuclear generation fleet, promoting customer energy efficiency programs, and investing in wind and solar power, lower-­carbon natural gas, and carbon-­beneficial renewable natural gas. Over the long term, achieving this goal will also require supportive legislative and regulatory policies, technological advancements, and broader investments across the economy. This includes support for the testing and deployment of such technologies as large-­scale energy storage, hydrogen, and advanced nuclear and carbon capture, all of which have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Dominion’s nuclear fleet includes three two-­unit plants: Connecticut’s Millstone and Virginia’s North Anna and Surry

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