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Dominion Power Heeding Push To Go Green, Albeit Slowly

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Offshore wind power is still years away, says Dominion, but now it's partially backed by federal funding.
Phil Hollman/Wikimedia Commons
Offshore wind power is still years away, says Dominion, but now it's partially backed by federal funding.

Dominion Power is making two big announcements related to wind and solar power, and some shareholders are calling on the company to move away from carbon-based fuel.

Four shareholder resolutions pushing Dominion to go green won about 20 percent support at the utility's annual meeting. Analysts say it's rare for such resolutions to win that much backing, since institutions hold most of the stock, and they rarely challenge management.

Meanwhile, the company announced it had won a large federal grant to install two wind turbines off Virginia Beach. The power company will get up to $47 million dollars over the next four years from the U.S. Energy Department to pay for the so-called demonstration project.

The 6-megawatt wind turbines will produce enough electricity to power up to 3,000 homes.

The DOE says the turbines will be sited 26 miles off the coast. They'll use a twisted jacked foundation intended to test turbines in harsh offshore conditions such as hurricanes.

Dominion holds the lease on a vast tract of ocean bottom about 25 miles off the coast for the development of wind energy.

But CEO Tom Farrell says consumers won't be getting cheap electric power from wind any time soon.

"That's 20 years away, and it's probably four times more expensive than onshore wind, which is three or four times more expensive than fossil fuels," Farrell says.

On a related note, Dominion has purchased two new solar projects in Tennessee. Virginia's largest electric utility says it's not investing much in solar here, because electric rates are low and there are no state incentives that would make it profitable to do so.

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