You may or may not be aware of the huge ongoing fight in Virginia over the proposed Dominion coal-fired power plant in Wise County. Suffice to say, it’s huge. And ongoing.

Into the fight drops a new report by ABT Associates, an independent research firm, which finds that — surprise surprise — efficiency is a far smarter investment:

The report compares the economic effects of building Dominion Power’s Wise County coal plant with investing in energy efficiency measures that would meet the same electricity demand. The study finds that avoiding construction of the coal plant by investing in efficiency would save the average household in Dominion’s service territory between $52 and $91 per year in 2012.

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The report goes on to find that efficiency investments would also add far more revenue to the state economy and create thousands more jobs.

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Got that? Better for the state economy, for ratepayers, and for jobs.

Now check out the first comment under this story about the report in a Virginia newspaper:

Dominion Power is in the business of making a return for people who invest in it. Any initiative that interferes with that is tantamount in my book to theft. Dominion makes money when it makes wise business decisions — not when ordered to do things by people who have no responsibilities to shareholders. If the environmentalists think they can do it better, then let them raise their own capital and start their own company instead of interfering with others. The market will decide who wins. Or do the environmentalists having something against markets?

Oh. My. God. We are doomed.

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Here’s more from the study:

According to the study, energy efficiency instead of the Wise County plant would boost the state economy by at least $228 million to $323 million each year between 2012 and 2025. It would also lead to at least 2,600 more permanent jobs than would exist if the investment were made in the Wise County coal plant. The report finds even greater benefits if the federal government implements "cap-and-trade" regulations on carbon dioxide, the main contributor to global warming, which will increase the cost of electricity from coal, according to the report. The ABT researchers estimate that, if such regulations are enacted, efficiency will boost the State Gross Product by up to between $483 million and $675 million annually between 2012 and 2025, as compared to the coal plant. It would result in a net gain of between 4,000 to 6,000 permanent jobs during the same period.

Tell me again about how coal is cheap? About how environmental measures hurt the economy? About how utilities are just trying to do what’s best for ratepayers?

More on the report here.