Shareholders urge Dominion Energy to study climate and investment risks of biomass power

Votes representing billions in holdings support resolution on bioenergy at Dominion’s annual meeting


MAY 7, 2014

A shareholder resolution asking Dominion Energy to conduct a study on the greenhouse gas and investment risks of biomass energy received substantial shareholder support at Dominion’s annual meeting today in Cleveland, Ohio.  Presented by Kelly Bitov, an attorney for the nonprofit Partnership for Policy Integrity (PFPI), the resolution was submitted by Marion Edey, a Dominion shareholder and founder of the League of Conservation Voters.

“This vote couldn’t be more timely,” said Ms. Edey.  “The National Climate Assessment issued just yesterday is clear that we don’t have a second to waste in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Biomass power, which threatens forests and increases greenhouse gas emissions, doesn’t belong in the renewable energy portfolio of one of the Nation’s largest energy companies.”

Dominion projects that burning wood for electricity generation will provide 75% of the company’s renewable energy supply by 2020.  Among other projects, the company is converting three Virginia coal plants to burn wood, which will require around two million tons of forest wood per year.  Although biomass power plants emits more carbon dioxide than coal per megawatt-hour, the company claims it is beneficial to the climate, a claim that PFPI challenged in a report to the Securities and Exchange Commission in late 2013.

Attorney Kelly Bitov, who spoke at the shareholder meeting on behalf of the resolution, said  “Dominion clearly needs to conduct a study on biomass power, not just on behalf of the climate, but on behalf of shareholders.  Decreasing public and policy support for bioenergy makes the company’s renewable energy investments in bioenergy a liability, instead of an asset.”

The resolution calling for Dominion to conduct a study of bioenergy climate and investment risks referenced the erosion of financial incentives for biomass energy, as some states, such as Massachusetts and Vermont, are restricting development of large-scale wood-burning plants on account of their greenhouse gas emissions.  Other states and municipalities are considering similar restrictions, including Maryland and Washington DC, in Dominion’s territory.   Along with climate-change related resolutions, all of which received upwards of 20% of shareholder votes, the bioenergy resolution received 21% of the vote.

“The high percentage of shareholders voting for this resolution shows that Dominion should scrutinize its bioenergy assets carefully,” said Mary Booth, Director of PFPI.  “Dominion relies on renewable energy incentives to make its biomass power investments profitable, but those subsidies are evaporating as concerns about forest and climate impacts of bioenergy grow.”

The resolution can be viewed at

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Partnership for Policy Integrity