I like to think of myself as being well informed on the topic of energy savings and Virginia law, at least more informed than your average consumer. So I was surprised to learn this evening that Dominion customers can sign up to buy clean power. Wha?
Picking up a hint from the article, I checked out the SBE’s Virginia Energy Choice website, an utterly useless single-page site, though it did inform me that “retail customers may purchase electricity supply from 100 percent renewable sources from competitive suppliers if their local utility company does not include renewable energy as a source of generation.”
Next I headed over to Dominion’s website. After a bit of a struggle I managed to log into my account. Twenty minutes of searching yielded not so much of a hint as to the availability of clean power.
Recalling that a power company named Pepco had been mentioned in the newspaper article, I headed over there. Jackpot.
I’d been puzzled to read that only 1,300 people have signed up for this program, but now I know why — it’s enormously difficult to sign up for. (Why would I visit the website of a power company that doesn’t even provide service here?) At $0.1094 per kilowatt hour, the price isn’t cheap — it’s about twice what most of us are paying for our coal/nuclear mix. The further downside is that while it’s cleaner power, it’s not clean power. It all comes from captured methane gas, presumably from landfills. So there’s still SO2, NOx and CO2 emissions, though the SO2 and NOx emissions are far less than from coal, and the CO2 emissions are about half that of coal.
If you’re a Dominion customer, and it’s worth doubling your monthly power bill to significantly reduce your pollutant output, this is probably a good option for you.