In recent years we have cut carbon and methane emissions substantially.
But we are not content with the progress we have made: Our goal is to achieve net zero carbon and methane emissions from our company’s electric and gas operations by 2050.
Reducing Emissions Throughout the Value Chain
In the early stages of our transition to clean energy, Dominion Energy focused primarily on Scope 1
emissions — those that are produced directly by our own operations. More than 90% of these emissions
come from electricity generation — the rest come primarily from our natural gas operations. For Dominion
Energy, Scope 2 emissions, produced by the generation of third-party electricity consumed at our facilities
outside our electric service areas, add only a minimal amount to our total emissions. Therefore, as we
continue to reduce our own emissions, we are increasingly focused on ways to reduce Scope 3 emissions —
those indirect emissions from upstream sources (including purchased power, methane emissions at the wellhead
for gas we purchase for our customers, and purchased goods and services) or downstream sources (e.g., customer
end use of natural gas).
In addition to reducing our own emissions, we seek to help other economic sectors reduce theirs. Our current efforts focus on transportation, agriculture, and industry.
Our mission is to build the infrastructure and renewable energy sources needed to support the rapid adoption towards a zero-emissions transportation future that removes carbon, smog and noise pollution from the communities and states we serve. Here are some of the initiatives we are working on:
- Electric School Buses. We’re working to reduce the number of diesel school buses on Virginia’s roads by helping school districts to replace them with cleaner, more efficient electric buses. The first 50 buses began rolling out in 2020. The buses will prevent almost 3 million pounds of carbon emissions annually.
- We have partnered with Fairfax County, Virginia, to bring an autonomous electric shuttle online that integrated into the public transit system and connects a Washington Metro transit stop to a popular shopping district about a mile away, and we are sponsoring six electric buses for the Hampton Roads Transit system in Southeastern Virginia.
We are expanding opportunities for electric vehicle charging in a number of ways. For example:
- We have installed the first electric bus charging stations in Dominion Energy South Carolina’s system to serve the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority’s bus depot.
- We helped launch the Electric Highway Coalition to create an electric vehicle charging network for major highways in much of the Eastern half of the U.S.
- In October 2020, we launched a Smart Charging pilot project that provides rebates for electric vehicle charging infrastructure for multi-family communities, workplaces, transit bus depots, and fast-charging stations.
- We are partnering with airports in our service areas to evaluate the installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
- In Virginia at a variety of airports in existing longer-term parking areas, we have installed level II chargers, with the company owning the chargers and retaining rights to all data and any associated environmental offset values.
Agriculture & Industry
Dominion Energy has undertaken initiatives with swine and dairy farmers to capture methane emissions
from animal waste that would otherwise escape into the atmosphere and process the captured natural
gas for use by our customers. The first facility came online, in Milford, Utah, in the summer of 2020.
It consists of 26 hog farms and will produce enough methane each year to heat roughly 3,000 homes.
Capturing methane and converting it to renewable natural gas substantially reduces greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture, which accounts for 10% of U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions. Because methane is a substantially more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, the RNG process removes more greenhouse-gas potential from the atmosphere than is created at the customer’s burner tip. Our RNG initiatives are expected to reduce emissions by an amount equivalent to taking 650,000 combustion-engine vehicles off the road each year.
While agriculture accounts for a tenth of the nation’s greenhouse-gas emissions, heavy industry accounts for roughly a fifth. Much of those emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels, because many industrial processes require high temperatures for sustained periods. While electrification is not currently practical for some processes, such as limestone calcination, it may be applicable in others, such as petrochemical steam reformation. Switching from coal and oil to natural gas could reduce emissions in some instances. Further reductions could be achieved through the use of hydrogen.
Suppliers are integral to our overall commitment to sustainability, and at minimum we expect suppliers to comply with all environmental laws and regulations. We scrutinize suppliers’ potential sustainability risk through environmental bid qualifiers, annual assessments, contract negotiations, labor-law compliance checks, and evaluation meetings. Key and strategic suppliers are asked to report annually on managing environmental impacts across their organization, including energy usage, and their efforts to measure, track, and minimize greenhouse-gas emissions across their organization. Through the assessment platform, suppliers are encouraged to report targets and to set plans for improvement year over year. In 2020, we had a 63% response rate (an 18% increase from 2019) with 57 supplier responders, representing 32% of our total procurement spending.
Our commitment to supply chain sustainability, continuous engagement with suppliers, and involvement in the Electric Utility Industry Sustainable Supply Chain Alliance (EUISSCA), help improve our relationships with key suppliers and emphasize the importance of sustainability performance across our entire supply chain. These efforts promote supplier innovation, partnership, and climate-related benefits. As an example, one of our recycling partners primarily supporting Virginia was able to divert 97% of collected wood, concrete, and fiberglass utility poles from landfills in 2020. This equates to about 5,396 cubic yards or 3.6 million pounds of material. Much of the diverted material is used for fence posts, landscaping walls, and other outdoor applications. By repurposing this material, an estimated 4,177 trees were saved, translating to more than 200,000 pounds of carbon dioxide sequestered.
Other Air Emissions
While carbon dioxide and methane constitute the bulk of our emissions, we strive to reduce other emissions as well.
From 2005 to 2020, we reduced the emissions rates of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and mercury from our power generation fleet by 90%, 99%, and 97% respectively. More rigorous accounting and improved leak-detection technology have enabled us to develop a fuller inventory of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), an electrical insulator, in our equipment and emissions. The more accurate inventory gives us a reliable baseline for calculating the impact of future improvements.
Greenhouse Gas Reporting
Following the sale of the majority of our gas transmission and storage assets to Berkshire Hathaway Energy in
2020 and the announced 2021 sale of the Questar Pipeline assets, the company adjusted the reporting of natural
gas metrics. Methane emissions reductions are measured from a baseline that excludes the assets sold to
Berkshire Hathaway Energy and the Questar Pipeline assets held for sale, consistent with the Greenhouse Gas
Protocol. However, in the interest of transparency, we are also providing environmental metrics in this
disclosure that include emissions from these assets for the period of 2020, during which the assets were still owned by Dominion Energy.
To be consistent with the adjustments mentioned in the paragraph above, we undertook a re-baselining of our carbon emissions to further incorporate Greenhouse Gas Protocol and TCFD recommendations. Emissions reductions reported in last year’s Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Report were calculated using a baseline that included company assets previously sold and did not include certain assets purchased by Dominion Energy after the baseline year.
In 2021 and going forward, carbon and methane emissions reductions will be measured from baselines that exclude divestments and include acquisitions.