This General Assembly session is shaping up to be one of the worst in Virginia history, on a wide variety of issues. That includes energy and the environment, where the Republican-controlled (and perhaps more to the point, fossil-fuel and Dominion Power-controlled) General Assembly has killed a slew of positive, constructive bills to move us towards a clean energy economy. They’ve also been working overtime in the Dominion Power Center…er, Virginia General Assembly to defend, to all of our dying breaths, the destructive fossil fuel industry and the dying model of centralized, top-down, government-protected-monopoly, utility-based electricity.
In sum, the Virginia General Assembly, under Republican control, is going in 180 degrees the wrong direction from where we need to be moving. It’s hard to sum up all the badness, but fortunately there have been not one but two articles in the past day detailing the disaster. First, check out Virginia Lawmakers Punt on a Suite of Renewable Energy Bills by the Virginia Sierra Club’s Ivy Main. A few “higlights” include:
- “More than a dozen clean energy bills were introduced in Virginia this year, including on community solar, renewable energy tax credits and third-party ownership. Yet nearly every bill designed to create new market opportunities for wind and solar was recently tabled or ‘carried over to 2017.’”
- “HB 941 would have expanded the authorization for property-assessed clean energy (PACE) programs to include residential and condominium projects. This would allow localities to offer low-interest financing to homeowners for both energy efficiency and renewable energy investments.” This one died in a Republican-controlled House committee, where tons of great legislation meets its maker.
- “SB 571 and HB 351 would have directed the Virginia governor to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the cap-and-trade program that has successfully ratcheted down carbon emissions in the Northeastern states.” This one died in both House and Senate GOP-controlled committees. Shocking, eh?
- “HB 1286 is a bill that the solar industry had pinned its hopes on that would have stripped away impediments to private investments in renewable energy.” Also basically died (actually it was “continued” to 2017, when Republicans undoubtedly will…either kill it out right or push it to 2018).
Anyway, you get the idea; the fossil-fuel-funded Republicans are serving their masters well, even as they do NOT serve the people of Virginia or the planet we all inhabit. Great job, guys, hope there’s a special place in hell for you.
The second article is at Utility Dive. This one mostly rehashes what Ivy Main wrote at Greentech Media, adding the true-but-shameful point that “Virginia has a ways to go on renewable energy…and it does not look like it will make much progress this session.” Utility Dive also notes, “Perhaps most disappointing for solar advocates is the delay on HB 1286, which would have allowed solar customers to enter into power purchase agreements with third parties, and would have done away with Virginia’s 1% net metering cap.”
The bottom line is that if you care about scaling up clean energy and saving the planet from catastrophe, you need to stop voting only in presidential election years. To the stark contrary, every single Democrat (or independent or Republican who cares about clean energy and environmental protection) who votes this year needs to also vote in 2017 (when Virginia holds elections for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General and the entire House of Delegates) and 2019 (when the entire state legislature is up). If not, then sorry, but you are a big part of the problem, definitely not part of the solution. If, on the other hand, you DO vote, then you can be proud of booting these fossil-fuel-worshipping, climate-destroying cretins out of the General Assembly once and for all. Your planet will thank you.