Richmond, Virginia-based Dominion Energy has joined a growing list of power companies establishing net-zero emissions targets. The company, which has more than 7 million electricity and natural gas customers in 18 states, said it intends to reach its carbon dioxide and methane reduction goals by 2050.
Under the net-zero framework, the company is committing to decrease methane emissions by 65% by 2030 and 80% by 2040, from 2010 levels. Furthermore, the company has committed to invest in carbon-beneficial renewable natural gas projects that will capture an amount of methane from U.S. farms at least equivalent to any remaining methane and carbon dioxide emissions from the company’s natural gas operations, making Dominion’s gas infrastructure area net-zero 10 years before the overall company.
“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,” Dominion CEO Thomas F. Farrell II said in a statement. “Net zero emissions will be good for all of our stakeholders—for our customers, communities, employees and investors.”
The company acknowledged that the need to reduce emissions is consistent with findings from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Under the strengthened emissions framework, Dominion said it will focus on achieving “near-term progress,” particularly on methane, which is a more potent greenhouse gas (GHG) than carbon dioxide.
“Our mandate is to provide reliable and affordable energy—safely. We do that every day, all year long. But we recognize that we must also continue to be a leader in combatting climate change. Our employees have always been problem-solvers in the work we do for our customers. I am confident we can use this same mindset to help solve this challenge and leave the world a better place for future generations,” Farrell said.
Other companies, including Duke Energy, American Electric Power, Xcel Energy, DTE Energy, and NRG Energy, have previously announced plans to reduce carbon emissions, but Dominion’s commitment is the boldest move yet.
“We commend Dominion for setting a net-zero target that covers both the electricity and natural gas sides of its business,” As You Sow’s Energy Program Manager Lila Holzman said in a statement. “While some utility net-zero targets cover only electricity generation, Dominion is acknowledging that the significant climate impacts of its natural gas operations must also reduce to zero.” As You Sow is a non-profit shareholder advocacy group.
Other clean energy groups also commended Dominion on its announcement. Bob Perciasepe, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, said, “Dominion is taking another great step in announcing this net zero commitment. Following on their ambitious methane programs announced last year, along with a commitment to support electric school buses, these new targets will make them more competitive and improve the quality of life for their customers. They also recognize a supportive policy environment is the best way to achieve the needed breakthroughs to grow adoption of battery storage, advanced nuclear, carbon capture, hydrogen and other clean energy technologies. Innovation and policy must go together.”
“On behalf of future generations and our ecosystem here in Virginia, we are excited and grateful that Dominion is setting the critical goal of net zero by 2050, echoing goals in the Paris Agreement and indicating an urgently needed commitment toward a sustainable future,” Marjorie Mayfield Jackson, executive director of the Elizabeth River Project, said.
Dominion said it plans to go beyond its own efforts to help accelerate GHG reductions in other industries, including transportation, agriculture, and manufacturing. Among the ways it intends to facilitate emissions reductions is through rapid deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure; promotion of liquefied natural gas, compressed natural gas, and hydrogen fuel usage; and investment in methane capture technology for farm operations.
—Aaron Larson is POWER’s executive editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine).