Long an economic and political powerhouse, Dominion Resources and its subsidiaries have been drawing intense fire on several fronts. And dozens of environmental and consumer groups have dubbed Dominion Public Enemy No. 1.
The company’s plans to pump millions of gallons of treated coal ash wastewater into the James and Potomac rivers drew fire this year. It’s also a partner in a $5 billion natural gas pipeline plan that threatens to disrupt bucolic home sites in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Critics attack the company’s slowness to shift to renewable energy as well as its plans to put high-voltage lines over the James River near historic Jamestown.
Responding, the utility has by turns taken more aggressive public relations stances by having talks with troublesome reporters and taking out ads claiming that gas pipelines are safe and don’t hurt property values.
Dominion also has backed off in a few cases. The James River Association had lambasted its plans to put a toxic plume of wastewater, including some levels of toxic metals, into the James at its Bremo Power Station, 50 miles upstream of Richmond. But it changed its mind after Dominion agreed to take extra steps to clean wastewater differently and have it monitored by a third party.
As the top corporate political donor in the state ($1.4 million in 2013), Dominion is an easy target. But lately, environmental groups have come up with lots more money than before. The Washington and Richmond offices of the League of Conservation voters donated about $4 million in the 2013 races, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
Once dominant Dominion faces significant new opposition.