Sierra Club Partners with Virginia Business Owners To Demand Clean Energy Investments

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    Alexandria, VA – Local clean energy business owners and advocates joined the Virginia Sierra Club in a press conference to urge Virginia’s energy regulatory agency, the State Corporation Commission, to support clean energy development. They called on the Commission to approve Dominion’s proposal to retire 2 coal-fired power plants, Chesapeake and Yorktown, and reject their proposal to impose stand-by charges on customers who install large solar systems. As the Commission is reviewing Dominion’s long-term energy plan and deciding the future of Virginia’s energy system and air quality, the entrepreneurs who have been real, local examples of successful 21st century energy innovators called on the agency to shift Virginia to clean sources of power, and bolster the clean energy economy.

    Clean energy entrepreneurs and employers described how they launched their successful companies in the face of the advantages for fossil fuel industries. Backed by a growing list of community organizations, community leaders and Virginia businesses voicing their support for clean energy, speakers expressed the urgent need for a bold energy plan that spurs the development of Virginia-made renewable energy technologies that drives economic growth and saves ratepayers money, while reducing the public health threats posed by coal pollution.

     

    Speaking in front of his business, Continuum Energy Solutions, Kent Baake, said (click here for the audio), “I have a 15-month-old boy, and I want him and his children to be able to breathe clean air and drink clean water. I decided to focus my business on solar panels and energy retrofits, because I wanted to do something to clean up pollution and protect our children’s future. Shifting investments from dirty coal to clean sources of energy will allow small businesses like mine to flourish, and, moreover, help ensure that neither my child nor anyone else’s develops asthma from coal pollution.”

    “In Virginia, we can provide 100% of our energy demand from renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements,” said Scott Sklar, President of The Stella Group, Ltd. (click here for the audio) “Investing in these technologies, made and installed by our own community members, will create high-skill, high-wage jobs. Local clean energy businesses are the true innovators – not big business, and we are leading the charge to grow our job market.” Over the past year, U.S. solar jobs grew 6.8 percent – 10 times more than the overall economy – whereas jobs in fossil fuel electric generation shrank 2 percent, according to a recent report by The Solar Foundation, for which Scott Sklar serves on the Board of Directors.

    The State Corporation Commission is currently reviewing Dominion’s plan to retire the Chesapeake and Yorktown coal-fired power plants. “For the sake of our health and environment, it is critical that the Commission approve the coal plant retirements,” stated Dr. Richard Ball, former lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “At every step of its use – from mining to burning to storing the leftover toxic waste, coal harms our communities and public health. Phasing out these coal plants will dramatically reduce emissions of dangerous pollutants, like sulfur dioxide, smog precursors, soot, and mercury, which contribute to serious health problems.”

    The Commission is also reviewing Dominion’s proposal to impose very high stand-by charges on customers who install larger solar systems. Ivy Main, Renewable Energy Chair of the Virginia Sierra Club, criticized the proposal saying (click here for the audio), “Dominion’s charge would be so high it would make it uneconomic to install these larger systems, essentially destroying the market for them and closing off this avenue for growth in Virginia’s solar energy industry. Virginia could be a leader in the clean energy economy, but right now, we are far behind all of our neighbors, and this would be 3 steps in the wrong direction. We urgently need Dominion and the Commission to make a serious commitment to developing renewable energy sources and supporting local renewable energy businesses, energy savings, and job growth.”