According to Gov. McAuliffe, speaking to the Virginia Chambers of Commerce earlier today:
The last big area for us is energy…This is our future, folks – energy. Diversification of our energy policies to grow with these new jobs. I was out in the Eastern Shore just last week to announce Virginia’s first permit by rule for an 80-megawatt solar facility; Amazon Web Services is going to buy all the juice from that new solar farm. It is now the biggest in the mid-Atlantic and the second-biggest solar farm in the entire east coast of the United States of America.
Why is this important? Two weeks ago I was up in Washington State, I met with Amazon and Microsoft. We have thousands of employees from those two companies in Virginia and billions of dollars in investments. They made it perfectly clear, they want their facilities…to be 100% powered by renewable energy. And if you can’t do that, they will not put any facilities in your state.
So when I talk about growth, it’s not only to build the turbines, the blades, the solar panels…we can’t bring in the businesses of the 21st century unless we’re serious about renewable energy. I also want to thank Dominion Power, which is our largest power company; they’re committed to building 400 megawatts of solar by 2020, which will be 25 times more solar than we actually have today. I’m proud to say several months ago I announced we are the first state to have an offshore federal lease, and right now we do have Dominion out with an RFP to look at this; we can be the first ones in the water with a wind turbine. So, energy is transforming our entire ability to create that new economy. I was in California recently and met with four solar manufacturing companies who were interested in moving to the east coast. We need to be the state that get those…
The only thing I’d disagree with here is that I wouldn’t give Dominion Power much credit for moving ahead with solar and wind in Virginia, given that: 1) Dominion has worked for years to block smart, sensible policies that would have jumpstarted energy efficiency, solar and wind power in Virginia; 2) Dominion continues to cling to an increasingly antiquated, top-down, “Utility 1.0” model, while resisting distributed power and other groundbreaking innovations in the energy arena; and 3) 400 megawatts might sound like a lot of solar power, but in reality, Dominion hasn’t done much of anything compared to many other states’ utilities when it comes to building solar and wind power, let alone cranking up Virginia’s abysmal energy efficiency record. Other than that, I’m very happy to hear Gov. McAuliffe recognize that renewable energy is, in many ways, the future for Virginia’s economy. We’d better get it right.
By the way, earlier today I read two articles — Wind now competes with fossil fuels. Solar almost does. and Wind and solar keep getting cheaper and cheaper — both of which pointed to a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance that shows clean energy prices plummeting, to the point that they are now competitive – or close to it – with fossil fuels. And that’s without even considering the massive environmental and health advantages of clean energy over dirty fossil fuels. Plus, there’s every sign that the ongoing decline in renewable energy costs, and the rapid improvement in wind and solar power efficiencies, is going to continue indefinitely. That is most certainly NOT the case with fossil fuels. So again, if Virginia is smart, we will move to embrace this energy revolution and to prosper from it, not let other states and countries leave us in the dust.