On May 1, the Hampton Roads Chamber and Virginia Peninsula Chamber held a joint Board of Directors/Trustee meeting at the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) in Suffolk. The group of 60 business and community leaders, was welcomed by Kasia Grzelkowski, Chair of the Virginia Peninsula Chamber and Deborah Stearns, Chair of the Hampton Roads Chamber.
The guest speaker was Thomas Farrell, II, Chairman, President and CEO of Dominion Resources Inc. Farrell discussed Dominion Resources’ investments, assets and the future for the industry. Dominion has been a partner and participant in the enterprises of this region for a very long time. Farrell explained, “We have deep roots in Hampton Roads. I’m aware of how difficult it is to accomplish regional cooperation with divided jurisdictions.” He added, “But the stakes are too great for the effort not to be made.”
Farrell explained that their goals are to provide ample, affordable and reliable energy. “We’re in the midst of a major multi-year infrastructure investment program to make sure you have the best electric service available at the lowest cost now and in the future.” It’s projected that Virginia will have a 25% increase in electricity demand over the next 15 years. Farrell told the group that Dominion Resources generates more than $800 million a year in economic impact.
The typical residential monthly bill has gone up less than 5% since 2008, which is half the rate of inflation. “Electric service has been a real bargain over the long haul relative to other goods and services,” Farrell said. He added that they have held base rates steady for over two decades. “Affordable energy is one reason why Virginia consistently ranks near top of the annual listings of the best states in which to do business.” Dominion works to bring jobs and companies to the region.
Farrell mentioned their new “Troops to Energy Jobs” program helps veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserves apply relevant military experience to careers in the energy industry.
The company deals with increasingly strict environmental standards. Dominion works with regulators, and in the last 10 years has spent more than $1 billion to install state-of-the-art emissions control on some of their largest coal fire generating stations in West Virginia and Virginia. This has produced large sustained reductions in air emissions. Farrell explained that difficult decisions have to be made such as the closure of their facilities in Yorktown and Chesapeake by 2015. “At the Chesapeake Energy Station, we cannot justify the large expenditures needed bring that plant up to current emission standards.”
In addition, Dwight Farmer, Executive Director of the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization, addressed the group and provided an update on transportation funding. Farmer provided an overview of the General Assembly’s recently approved comprehensive long-term transportation funding and reform package for Virginia. HB 2313 will generate approximately $843 million annually statewide by 2018, or approximately $3.4 billion over the next five years. Regional components will raise approximately $175-200 million each year for Hampton Roads.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Hampton Roads Chamber Chair Deborah Stearns thanked Delegate Matthew James and Aubrey Layne of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, who were both at the meeting, for their support of the bill.