Virginia SCC approves Dominion Energy plan, warns of increased cost to customers

Virginia’s State Corporation Commission has approved Dominion Energy’s long-range plan that they had previously rejected, stating that Dominion’s “Integrated Resource Plan (IRP)” meets the minimum legal requirements but would significantly increase customer’s monthly bills. The IRP is Dominion’s plan for the necessary capital investments it needs to provide electricity service over the next 15 years. 

Dominion presented evident that the mandates required by Senate Bill 966 will cost customers more than $6 billion in addition to the $12.1 billion in capital investments the company believes are necessary, which will be paid for by Virginia customers. The costs will impact the rates customers will pay monthly. By the end of 2023, the estimated monthly increase to customers will be nearly $30 for the average residential customer. 

Analysis shows that the number of park rangers is in decline

An analysis conducted by the USA Today Network shows that, while the number of people visiting the national parks continues to rise, the number of park law enforcement rangers is in decline. Data shows the number of employed law enforcement rangers has dropped more than 20 percent since 2005. As of June 2019, there were 1,766 full-time and seasonal rangers employed by the park service. In contrast, over 318 million people visited national parks in 2018. 

This decline is on par with an overall drop in park service staffing, which has also fallen 20 percent over the past ten years. According to data obtained from the park service, the number of “full-time equivalent” staff members, which includes permanent, temporary and seasonal workers, has dropped from 27,484 in June 2010 to 22,076 in June 2019. 

The drop in law enforcement staffing may mean that endangered visitors will have to wait longer for help, increasing safety risks to those that visit the parks.

World’s most endangered sea turtles hatch on SC beach

Baby Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, the most endangered in the world, hatched on Hilton Head Island last week and made their way into the surf, where they will begin the long and difficult journey to survive. The newly hatched Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles were the first ever recorded on Hilton Head Island and only the forth known Kemp’s Ridley turtles to have hatched in South Carolina. The critically endangered species is the smallest of the eight species of sea turtles. They grow up to two feet in length and weigh 75- 100 pounds when fully grown. 

Nature Conservancy adds 955 acres to SC Jones Gap State Park

A state park in upper Greenville County, South Carolina, is growing. Jones Gap State Park has acquired an additional 955 acres thanks to a donation from the Nature Conservancy to the SC Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism. The Nature Conservancy purchased the donated land in 2017 for $3.7 million. 

The property is not yet open to the public and it could take two years before day-use amenities are planned and developed. The protection of the land bridges a conservation gap between the Table Rock Watershed and the North Saluda Watershed and will continue to provide a home for many rare species including Rafinesque’s big-eared bat, the green salamander, the showy orchis, black bear and a newly discovered species of trillium, known as the Jones Gap trillium.