VA Sierra Club Releases Report on “How Virginia is Losing the Competition For Clean Energy”

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    I just got off a conference call with the Virginia Sierra Club (Glen Besa and Ivy Main), the topic being the release of their new report, “Power Failure – How Virginia is Losing the Competition For Clean Energy Jobs.”  The Sierra Club’s press release is after the “flip,” but here are a few quick notes from the call.

    *Virginia is way behind other states in clean energy and energy efficiency, due to a failure of leadership by Bob McDonnell and also previous governors.

    *Other mid-Atlantic states are ahead of us in clean energy incentives and jobs.

    *If “Bob’s for Jobs” really wants to create jobs, the single best thing he could do right now would be to invest in energy efficiency. For every $1 invested in energy efficiency, we get $2 back.  

    *There are huge opportunities for renewable energy and energy efficiency in Virginia, but we don’t have the incentives needed to get there.

    *A well-crafted Renewable Portfolio Standard would be a superb tool for reaching our goals.  Right now, Virginia has a voluntary RPS that is basically worthless. We need a real, mandatory RPS.

    *Part of why this administration, and previous administrations, have failed is their close ties to Dominion VA Power, and the disproportionate influence Dominion and other utilities have on Virginia politics.

    *Coal is not the future. In fact, coal mining employment has plummeted in Virginia, thanks to mechanized forms of mining like “mountaintop removal.” Also, “If coal’s so great, than why is southwestern Virginia so poor?”

    Sierra Club report finds Virginia left behind, losing to East Coast states in realizing clean energy future

    [Richmond, VA] – The Sierra Club today issued a report entitled Power Failure – How Virginia is Losing the Competition For Clean Energy Jobs, that contrasts Virginia’s actions and incentives promoting energy efficiency and clean energy with the efforts of neighboring states.

    “The Old Dominion can not remain wedded to old energy, but that is the course Governor McDonnell is pursuing,” said Glen Besa, Virginia Director of the Sierra Club.  “Worse yet he appears indifferent or even hostile to clean energy and efficiency.”

    The report notes that McDonnell earlier this year withdrew from the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition composed of Governors from 26 states, and that he has failed to make key appointments to activate a new Offshore Wind Energy Authority in Virginia.

    “The Governor continues to pursue offshore drilling to the detriment of other approaches that would create more jobs and a healthier environment,” said Ivy Main, an author of the report and the Virginia Sierra Club’s Renewable Energy Chair.  “This report offers a number of recommendations to get Virginia back in the race with neighbors like North Carolina and Maryland.  First and foremost, it calls on Governor McDonnell to support mandatory goals for renewal energy and efficiency.”

    The Sierra Club is calling on Governor McDonnell to seek administrative and legislative actions to promote renewable energy in Virginia.  The group points to an April 2010 study conducted by the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium that says development of offshore wind in the state could create more than 10,000 career length jobs.

    “If the governor is serious about making Virginia the Energy Capital of the East Coast, then offshore wind must be at the forefront of his plan to get us there.  Last week’s announcements that the first offshore wind leases in the nation have been approved by the U.S. Department of Interior and that the Spanish wind firm Gamesa is partnering with Northrop-Grumman to develop a new generation of wind turbines in Virginia show that this technology is here and ready to be deployed,” continued Main. “It’s up to Governor McDonnell to seize this moment and invest in renewable energy and efficiency.  That is where the jobs of Virginia’s future are.”