September 24, 2008
Protesters Hijack Dominion Chief’s Slide Show
by Amy Biegelsen
Protestors digitally hijacked a presentation that Dominion Resources’ chief executive, Thomas F. Farrell II, gave last week, voicing their opposition to his company’s new coal-fired power plant in Wise County.
At a Bank of America investors’ conference Sept. 15, held in the San Francisco Ritz Carlton, Farrell’s computer slide show on Dominion’s corporate health was derailed when images of a protest staged earlier that morning at the Virginia plant began flashing on the screen behind him.
Hours earlier, a group of roughly 20 protestors associated with the San Francisco-based Rainforest Action Network had gathered in front of the construction site for the new plant in Wise. Several sat with their arms in lockboxes, devices made of pipes embedded in concrete-filled drums. Protestors stick their arms inside the tubes and fasten their wrists with handcuffs or carabiner clips to a bar inside. Police must then spend hours cutting through the barrels before they can clear the area.
Pictures of the scene in Virginia were beamed to the group’s headquarters in San Francisco where they were loaded onto flash drives programmed to override the Dominion slide show.
Brant Olson, a campaign director with the network, says he and a group of colleagues infiltrated the event by donning their best corporate drag and sauntering in. “Generally being white, male and well-dressed will get you quite a ways,” he says. He was able to pop the disc into one of the computer’s ports, and it ran for 20 minutes before a tech shut them down.
Afterwards, Olson and a colleague asked Farrell questions about Dominion’s heavy reliance on “dirty energy” as part of the company’s business plan given coal-fired plants’ significant contribution to global warming.
“I wouldn’t use the word ‘dirty’ to describe them,” Farrell told the gathering. “I’ll let you pick whatever subjective term you want to use.”
Activists staged a similar protest July 7 in downtown Richmond, the day Dominion began construction on the $1.8 billion coal-fired power plant and announced its intentions to add a third nuclear reactor in Louisa County. Protestors in front of Dominion’s headquarters on Tredegar Street sat with lockboxes beneath a student suspended from the footbridge that crosses the river to Belle Isle.
“[The prank] does not reduce Virginia’s urgent need for new power generation. … nor does it change the fact that we have enough renewable generation under development to power nearly 325,000 homes,” company spokesman Mark Lazenby says.
(Thanks to Sparky for sharing this…)