ONE-ON-ONE WITH ED BAINE, President, Dominion Energy
In this exclusive interview with Jasmine Bedi, InterGlobix Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Baine throws light on Dominion’s “Net Zero by 2050” initiative and how Dominion is a key ally of the thriving Virginia data center industry, the No. 1 data center market globally. Baine also shares how Dominion Energy is preparing for a carbon free future.
Published in Issue 5 | December 2020
Can you share with us your journey with Dominion?
I started with the company as an engineer 25 years ago and I’m now President of Dominion Energy Virginia, overseeing our generation, distribution and transmission assets serving 2.7 million customers in Virginia, as well as northeastern North Carolina. Before taking my current position, I held numerous senior roles within Dominion Energy Virginia including distribution, transmission, customer service and generation. Over the past quarter century, I have watched a remarkable evolution at our company. When I began in 1995, things were very different in the utility space. The energy industry was slow to evolve, especially compared to the rise in tech companies throughout the ‘90s and early 2000s. I am extremely proud to be a part of this industry and, especially, this company. We have made some incredible innovations over the past 20 years—innovations that put us on our journey toward clean energy, which is what we will be discussing today.
The demand for clean, renewable energy has never been higher, this development has happened rather quickly. The conversation always has been there, but it seems that it has been accelerated in the past decade. How has Dominion Energy responded?
Dominion Energy has come a long way over the past five years. In 2015, we had just 1 megawatt (MW) of solar operating in Virginia. As prices fell and the energy sector evolved, we adapted to provide our customers more renewable energy. And, we are delivering. We now own the third largest solar fleet among our utility peers in the United States and we are building the largest offshore wind facility in the Americas. Across our 16-state footprint we have committed to achieving net zero carbon and methane emissions by 2050. This is not an easy goal, but we are committed to doing our part to help create a cleaner world and, as one of the largest utilities in the US, we are in a position to make positive change. Moreover, we will do so without compromising the affordable rates, strong reliability, superior safety and excellent service we keep at the heart of our mission.
The Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) was recently passed. Can you talk about this act and what some of the key implications of this act are for Dominion Energy and its customers?
Dominion Energy firmly believes the VCEA, which was signed by Governor Ralph Northam following its passage earlier this year in the General Assembly, is the way forward for clean energy in Virginia. While our company already had made substantial progress in the development of solar, wind, energy storage and energy efficiency, this legislation provides the roadmap for further zero-carbon expansion.
Can you tell us about some clean energy projects in which Dominion Energy is investing?
The VCEA calls for over 16,000 MW of solar by 2035. Dominion Energy will deliver a significant portion of this clean and renewable solar energy, significantly expanding our solar portfolio.
In addition, one of the most important aspects of the VCEA is that it underscores the invaluable role of offshore wind. Dominion Energy is the only utility to own an offshore wind project and the first to construct turbines in federal waters. Our first two turbines from our pilot project are now generating electricity and we are shifting focus to build 2,600 MW of offshore wind. Once completed in 2026, the approximately 200 turbines will generate enough energy at peak to power up to 660,000 homes. This has far more implications than just the delivery of clean energy to our customers. Such a large endeavor will require a skilled workforce and advanced manufacturing. We are working to develop a supply chain in Hampton Roads that will provide thousands of clean-energy jobs in Virginia and reduce overall costs for our customers.
We have been an energy storage leader, thanks to our Bath County Power Station, which is called the “largest battery in the world.” This pumped-storage facility provides approximately 3,000 MW of power when our customers need it most. We are piloting several new energy storage projects in Virginia now and, under the VCEA, we will add a large portion of the 2,700 MW of energy storage to our system by 2035. For the first time, the VCEA also puts in place an energy-efficiency mandate to reduce overall consumption. This will continue the efforts sparked by the Grid Transformation & Security Act of 2018, which required nearly $1 billion in efficiency programs over the course of a decade. We are already 40 percentof the way to that goal with eight years to go and will continue to significantly invest in these efforts under VCEA.