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Dominion Energy Sees RNG as a Growth Opportunity

Dominion Energy Sees RNG as a Growth Opportunity

Dominion Energy made its entry into renewable natural gas almost 5 years ago, by partnering with two of the largest players in the industry – Vanguard Renewables and Smithfield Foods.  Throughout this partnership, Dominion Energy has helped to increase the prevalence of the clean energy source, which is derived from cow and swine waste.

RNG is produced by capturing methane emissions when organic matter, like hog waste, decomposes. It’s a proven waste-to-energy stream that reduces emissions, provides renewable energy for consumers and an additional revenue stream for farmers.

The product is in high demand in the transportation and utility industries to dramatically reduce their carbon footprint through offsets or the sale of attributes fueled in part by RNG usage and procurement mandates.

Dominion Energy’s ties to RNG, including the Virginia-based company’s early successes in the industry, and where the RNG industry is heading in the immediate future, will be discussed at Appalachian RNG Conference – Spring 2024.

The one-day program, presented by the H2-CCS Network and Shale Directories, will be held April 18, at the Hilton Garden Inn Southpointe, located minutes south of Pittsburgh.

Virginia “Gina” Weis jumped into Dominion Energy’s RNG roughly 18 months ago, coming from the energy company’s solar operations.

“We’re trying to get all the projects we have under construction up and running, while also pursuing new business,” said Weis, Dominion’s Renewable Energy Programs Advisor. “There definitely is a lot of opportunity for growth out there.”

Weis said Dominion Energy’s Smithfield partnership has six swine waste projects, representing multiple farms, either producing RNG or in various stages of construction.

In addition, more than 16 dairy cow waste-related projects are either operational or under construction, according to Weis, representing more than 30 farms.

Weis said one of the situations holding back even faster RNG development comes from various state regulators, who are working diligently to adjust and apply rules that were written to govern fuel sources, such as natural gas.

“The RNG industry has grown a lot in the last few years,” she explained.  “A lot of the rules governing natural gas were written to cover traditional gas pulled from the earth, not RNG. Adjusting the process takes time and regulators are working as quickly as they can to get their arms around how to best leverage RNG.”

Dominion Energy and its partners are also working to share the value of RNG to farmers who are familiar with its benefits.

“Still, I see more and more growth (in RNG production) within the next three to five years as folks become more familiar with the process,” Weis added. “We see RNG, for example, fitting into many utility portfolios.”

Dominion Energy continues to be optimistic about the prospects of RNG and what it could mean for the energy industry as a whole.

“It is a really exciting place to be,” said Weis. “A decade ago, RNG was a new concept.  We have made so much progress in that short amount of time, it is really exciting to think of the possibilities that may exist in the next 10 years.”