Last Updated: November 19th, 2020 at 10:10 am
Read Time: 2 Minutes
Virginia took steps to solve its coal ash problem earlier this month when Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill that requires Dominion Energy’s legacy coal ash ponds to be excavated.
The bill requires Dominion to excavate the ponds and recycle at least one-fourth of the 27 million cubic yards of ash, while putting the remainder of it into lined landfills. Per a report from the Richmond Times Dispatch’s Mel Leonor, more than half of that ash is stored in two ponds in Chesterfield County, located just southwest of Richmond, near a power plant along the James River.
“The potential risks to public health and water quality posed by unlined coal ash ponds in the commonwealth are far too great for us to continue with business as usual,” Northam said in a statement. “This historic, bipartisan effort sets a standard for what we can achieve when we work together, across party lines, in the best interest of all Virginians. I am proud to sign this legislation into law.”
What coal ash cleanup means for Dominion Energy customers
While the excavation of these coal ash pits is indeed a win for all Virginians, there comes with it a cost to Dominion ratepayers. Per the same Times Dispatch article, “The deal allows Dominion to recover from ratepayers the full cost of the project, estimated at $2.4 billion to $5.7 billion, including financing costs and a profit. Lawmakers estimate the project will add $5 to the monthly bills of average households for the next 15 to 20 years.”
So in doing the quick math, the average Dominion customer stands to pay $900-$1,200 for the cleanup and disposal over this 15-20-year span.
Solar energy is clean alternative
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