Ed Baine, president of Dominion Energy Virginia, is currently overseeing the company’s critical effort to provide customers with safe, reliable, affordable, and clean energy. The company is developing the largest offshore wind project in the United States, growing its solar and energy storage portfolio, pursuing license extensions of four nuclear units, and enhancing the energy grid to not only be more resilient and reliable but also provide better service.
The transformational period at the Richmond, Virginia-based company is in many ways reflective of the journey of its president. Baine has risen through many positions over the past twenty-six years, continuing to accrue new responsibilities before ultimately finding himself at the helm of the company’s largest segment.
It’s a long way to climb from the Lunenburg County tobacco farm on which Baine was raised, a farm that had originally been part of a 2,000-acre plantation. Two-hundred acres were eventually purchased by his grandfather and siblings and turned into a family business.
“What I learned very early was that no one can be successful alone,” Baine remembers. “We were in a place where no one had much, so people had to help each other. To this day, our family lives by the Bible verse [Luke 12:48] ‘To whom much is given, much will be required.’”
Big Clean Energy
One of the highlights of Baine’s leadership during Dominion Energy Virginia is the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project, which is located twenty-seven miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. The Project Construction Group expects to complete CVOW in 2026. The clean, sustainable energy of the 180 projected turbines will power up to 660,000 homes, annually bypassing as much as 5 million tons of carbon dioxide.
In conjunction with solar projects, the complementary resources will line up with wind and solar energy production peaking at different times of the day and during the year.
Dominion Energy is also growing its energy storage efforts and working to make sure the four nuclear units in Virginia continue to provide zero-carbon energy. Work is underway to enhance the energy grid to meet customer needs.
“It’s an exciting time to be in our industry, within the Commonwealth of Virginia in particular,” Baine says. “We always talk about being better tomorrow than we are today, and since there have been more changes in the industry in the past five years than probably the previous twenty, there is never a shortage of ideas and projects to think about how we can constantly improve the customer experience and our operations.”
When Baine speaks of changes at Dominion Energy, the scale is immense. In September 2021, the company acquired the 20-megawatt Dry Bridge Energy Storage project in Chesterfield County. It is expected to go live in 2022 and will be capable of powering five thousand homes at peak usage.
It’s just one of eleven recently proposed new solar and energy storage projects, and if approved by state regulators, the entire rollout would produce more than 1,000 megawatts of solar power and energy storage.
“Ed’s broad experience and collaborative leadership style will be instrumental in navigating unprecedented industry change and delivering Dominion’s clean energy future,” notes Miki Deric, managing director for utilities and business advisory services in North America at Accenture.
To ensure reliability and resiliency for customers during this clean energy transition, Dominion Energy is also modernizing the grid. It is making significant investment in transmission infrastructure, while also moving forward on a ten-year effort to transform the distribution grid. The company has also made significant progress on its strategic undergrounding program and is partnering with others on rural broadband to help close the digital divide in Virginia.
“Ed is the rare leader that combines transformational vision with an exceptional operations background and ability to execute. Pike is honored to partner with Ed and his team,” says Matt Simmons, senior vice president at Pike Electric.
The Future of Energy Leaders
Baine says leadership at this level wasn’t his initial motivation, but he remains grateful that those around him saw something in him. “As an engineer early on, I took the Myers-Briggs personality test and was a strong introvert,” he says, laughing. “But I had leaders who took an interest in me and were willing to provide me with opportunities in my career to grow and develop.”
As Baine has moved along in his own career, he’s taken the mentorship and guidance he received and done his best to give it back to those on their own journeys. The piece of advice he most adamantly works to impart is to just go for it, even if you don’t think you’re ready.
“Don’t be afraid, because you have the capability and talents but just might not be leveraging, or even aware of, all the abilities you have,” Baine says. “When I was a planning engineer, I had a leader come and tell me he wanted me to be a supervisor of operations. I was really nervous, but I’ve learned to trust those who have seen something in me.”
Baine says it’s always been imperative for him to interact with more than just those at the leadership level. He always took note of the leaders who would take time to speak with him earlier in his career, even if they were just walking down the hall. He also remembers the feeling of those who didn’t feel the need to speak.
“People will judge you,” Baine says. “If you go to a job site, if you stop to talk to people, if you try and get to know them, if you listen, then people will know that you care, and you will be able to build trust within the organization. You can understand what is going well and what needs to be improved, and then you can be a better decision-maker as a leader.”
Baine takes those conversations seriously and has regularly offered mentorship and guidance to future leaders. Often the best thing a mentor can do is simply listen, he says. Most of the time, answers can be found simply by discussing an issue out loud.
“It is great to read the leadership books, but experience is one of the greatest teachers as well,” Baine says. “It’s so valuable to be able to pick up a phone, call someone, and ask ‘How did you handle this type of situation?’”
Baine doesn’t think he’s reached any pinnacle. He says he always sees himself as a work in progress. “But when I think about my journey here,” he notes, “I am humbled and honored by it and realize that there is still much to do.”
West Cary Group:
“As one of the largest black-owned advertising agencies in the country, West Cary Group is honored to provide our creative, data science, and technology solutions in pursuit of Dominion Energy’s mission to deliver clean, reliable, and affordable energy.”
—Moses Foster, President and CEO