Home Energy and Environment McDonnell Quits Governors Wind Energy Coalition

McDonnell Quits Governors Wind Energy Coalition


( – promoted by lowkell)

Again within the course of just 2 days, Governor Bob McDonnell marched the Commonwealth of Virginia even further down the path of yesteryear. Fresh off his “Drill, baby, drill” celebrations, yesterday comes the announcement that he has quit the Governors Wind Energy Coalition.

This is getting downright embarrassing for us Virginians! While several other states on the eastern seaboard are fast moving towards offshore wind energy development, we’re instead plotting to drill for oil that once online (10-20 years from now) lasts a grand total of 6.5 days!

McDonnell is not only the cause of embarrassment for us Virginians, but also for all Americans. His reason for quitting the wind coalition is its support for a national renewable electricity mandate. China is killing us in the race to collect big manufacturers with their thousands of jobs to their country. These manufacturers are otherwise turned off by America’s unsteady support for the industry. Problem’s solved with passage of a national policy supporting renewables.

A Chicago consulting firm, Navigant, produced a report with the following summary of findings:

•A 25% by 2025 national RES would result in 274,000 more jobs supported by the renewable electricity industry than without a national RES. This is equivalent to 2.36 million additional job-years.

•A national RES will lead to job growth in all states, especially those currently without state-level renewable electricity standards.

•The biomass, hydropower, and waste-to-energy industries would see significant job gains in the Southeast United States under a strong national policy. Biomass jobs would double, with most of the increase concentrated in Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Kentucky.

•Meaningful near-term RES targets (12% by 2014 and 20% by 2020) are critical to ensure global competitiveness for the US renewable electricity industry, and stronger long-term targets (25% by 2025) are needed to attract long-term manufacturing investment and project development.

•Meaningful near-term targets are also necessary to mitigate a flattening or decline in industry-supported jobs that will otherwise occur across industries with the expiration of tax incentives and stimulus-related policies.

A national RES makes the U.S. more competitive worldwide and should we start to win this competition, guess which state stands to benefit the most?

“No other state has more opportunity for economic gain and to be a leader in the offshore wind industry than Virginia”, writes the Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition, a coalition that I think Gov. McDonnell still supports and hasn’t bailed from.

Several factors make Virginia uniquely position amongst its East Coast neighbors to capture the greatest $ benefit from a national RES:

– Virginia has one of the best sites in the world for offshore wind. A shallow outer continental shelf extending many miles out, combined with ample Class 5 (excellent) and 6 (outstanding) wind resources, means we could potentially meet 100% of our total energy demand from offshore wind turbines.

– A wind farm twelve miles offshore from Virginia Beach could be readily integrated into the region’s high-voltage transmission grid by connecting to an existing 500 KV substation in Chesapeake.

– Amongst its East Coast neighbors, Virginia and specifically Hampton Roads with its deep water port and ship building industry, is envisioned as being the manufacturing hub for the industry.

– U.S. offshore projects are moving ahead in five other Atlantic states (where incidentally there is no proposed offshore oil drilling): Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey and New York. Lined up along the Atlantic coast, Virginia’s wind farms are a necessary “stop along the way” as East Coast states work cooperatively to establish an integrated offshore electric grid.

Bottomline: Not only could Virginia easily meet and beat a national RES, but it stands to benefit handsomely from it. And Gov. McDonnell abandons it all, marching us in pursuit of dirty 20th century energy. It’s embarrassing now and will be especially embarrassing for our children.

  • Teddy Goodson

    Was not Mr. McDonnell supposed to be for jobs, jobs, jobs? It sounds as though his loyalty to the coal industry and petro fuels exceeds his loyalty to jobs, jobs, jobs.

  • Eileen Levandoski

    Good comment from the Union of Concerned Scientists on The Hill blog post…

    “Folks in the commonwealth of VA might consider going on this website to remind folks that the Governor’s action to withdraw from the Gov Wind Coalition and opposition to a federal RES leaves jobs on the table and shortchanges Virginians. Our analysis indicates that a 25 Percent by 2025 standard would save Virginians $810 million on their energy bills.”  

  • tx2vadem

    What has our governor’s participation in this organization accomplished?

    Outside that, do you think Congress is going to amend PURPA this year?  And does the lack of participation of one governor jeopardize that?

    A larger question is who is going to build this offshore wind project.  And what incentive to they have to do so?  I understand that if we implement a national RES there would be an incentive.  Absent that, what?  And where would they get the financing?  And would ratepayers even be willing to pick up the tab?

    100% of VA’s electric consumption is fantasy.  We consume 110,106,337 megawatt-hours of electricity (per EIA’s last retail sales info).  To replace just the nameplate generation (and that doesn’t really get us to real generation), that would be 25.6 gigawatts.  For reference, Germany’s target on offshore wind is 10 gigwatts.  On top of that, wind generation is erratic.  Without a new battery that could store that power, you would never get to 100% even if you had the nameplate capacity to do it.

    Also, your assumption is that there is idle transmission and distribution capacity that a new wind farm could just hook into without requiring any upgrades to the transmission infrastructure.  On what do you base that?  That’s another cost that ratepayers would need to pick up.  

    • tx2vadem

      I was speaking to the general public.  Pick it up, in this case, is not an individual choice.  I nor you can choose to pay for green power.  In the public space, there have been many rate filings recently.  And the complaint from the public is not “we are not building enough green power”, it is “we don’t want to pay that much for electricity.”  Consumers seem fine only with some small utility level efficiency programs.

      My point about cost was more related to the 100% point in the post.  

  • TomPaine

    the hot air from Virgina Beach (Pat Robertson) and Lynchburg (Jerry Falwell, Jr.) is going to require a heavier use of air conditioning throuhout the commonwealth.