Dominion Energy has launched a multi-faceted environmental effort to create more natural habitats for butterflies, bees, birds and other pollinators in Virginia and North Carolina.
According to the Pollinator Partnership, three-fourths of the world's flowering plants and about 35 percent of the world's food crops depend on insect pollinators to reproduce. Over the past decade, however, pollinator populations have plummeted. Habitat loss is one of the most crucial problems pollinators face. Dominion Energy is helping.
"Pollinators are so important to the production of crops, protection of native plants, and for the sheer beauty they bring to our world," said Pamela F. Faggert, Dominion Energy's chief environmental officer and senior vice president of sustainability. "Our coordinated effort is intended to create more habitats that provide food and shelter to help reverse the population decline."
The effort, called "Wings at Work," has several facets:
- More than 43,000 acres of habitat suitable for pollinators has been created and maintained in electric transmission and distribution corridors. Going forward, the company plans to further enhance some of that land by planting pollinator-specific plants.
At least 60 additional acres of new habitat will be created in open spaces at Dominion Energy's electric generation facilities.
- Dominion Energy is working with landowners who want to help create sanctuaries for pollinators in the right-of-way along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline route in Virginia and North Carolina.
- The Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation offers competitive grants for educational and environmental initiatives that non-profits and schools can apply for to fund, among other things, pollinator education and habitat creation. Over the past six months, the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation has provided almost $50,000 in grants for seven pollinator projects.
- Maintaining electric transmission rights-of-way free of large trees is critical for safety and reliability. For years, Dominion Energy managed those areas by essentially mowing all growth. The result was that native plants and flowers were blocked out by more robust tree saplings.
The company switched to a mowing program that targets only woody growth that could cause problems with the electric transmission lines. As a result, native plants and flowers have flourished. With the return of the plants, pollinators have also returned.
"We are seeing flowers that have not grown in Virginia for decades returning. These areas are sanctuaries for monarchs and other pollinators," Faggert said.
The company also plans to develop additional parcels on power station property to support vitally needed pollinator species. This initiative by power stations will create about 60 acres of habitat.