Here’s the thing with Virginia State Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw: when he opens his mouth and words come out, there’s a high probability that at least some of those words will be (take your pick) stupid, wrong, offensive, bizarre, crazy, etc. In this instance, Saslaw spoke for several minutes at Monday’s meeting of the Falls Church City Council, and he had a LOT to say. That includes his tirade against UVA, with which I largely agree (we’ll call that one the “good Dick Saslaw”). It also includes the snippet I’ve included here, in which Falls Church City Council Member Dan Sze asks Saslaw about “net metering” (“allows residential and commercial customers who generate their own electricity from solar power to feed electricity they do not use back into the grid”) As Sze correctly points out, “Virginia ranks near the bottom in the United States for mechanisms to allow renewable energy to work.”
So what’s Dick Saslaw planning to do about this unacceptable situation? Why, absolutely nothing of course. To put the answer to that question in context, really all you need to know is that Dominion Virginia Power is Dick Saslaw’s top all-time donor, at $240,508, and that Dominion Virginia Power is one of the worst, most backward and reactionary utilities in the country when it comes to renewable energy. Also keep in mind that Dominion essentially owns the Virginia General Assembly, having donated over $9 MILLION over the years to Virginia Democrats and Republicans alike (yes, that’s your power bill at work, helping a powerful, polluting corporation buy our “democracy”).
Anyway, back to Dick “Dominion’s Puppet” Saslaw and how he responded (or more accurately, failed to respond, other than pathetic whining about how life’s so unfaiiiiiiir – waaaaaaah!!!) to the excellent question from Falls Church City Council member Dan Sze on net metering. First, the bought-and-paid-for “Bad Dick Saslaw,” who I’d remind everyone is actually/unbelievably the Democratic leader in the Virginia State Senate, goes on a bizarre, Cuccinelli-style rant against the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP), in which he basically whines and spews out fossil fuel industry talking points. In fact, as this superb op-ed explains, with the CPP, we would reap “a $1.1 billion benefit to the Virginia economy before accounting for the economic benefits from the improved environment and health.” As an added bonus, the CPP “actually represents a significant business opportunity for Virginia to become a leading state in the areas of solar power, wind power, and energy efficiency.” More good news: “estimates are that energy efficiency alone could save Virginia households at least $517 million by 2020, and a lot more thereafter…allowing us to shut down antiquated, polluting power plants.” Last but not least, the CPP “will help protect our state against hundreds of billions of dollars – and untold lives – in potential climate devastation.”
Of course, Dominion puppet “Bad Dick Saslaw” ignores all this, along with Council Member Szu’s question (which, if you recall, was about net metering), while condescendingly asking, “you understand what I’m saying?” Council Member Szu’s response is priceless.
I understand completely, sir, but…the simple request is to allow municipalities like ours to be able to do net metering. It’s very simple. We want to work with Dominion to figure out how to [I believe he says “harness the resources of the sun”].
Good luck with that. As I wrote a few months ago, Dominion is one of the most “intransigent, obstinate, and unwilling” utilities in the country, one that apparently would rather die than adapt to a world in which renewable energy costs have plummeted, while the ability of consumers to partially or completely disconnect themselves from the power grid has soared (both trends are expected to continue and even accelerate in coming years). The bottom line is that Dominion is fighting a losing battle, and its bought-and-paid-for “allies” are doing it no favors by blocking and tackling for it. Instead, people like “Bad Dick Saslaw” should be using whatever influence they have on Dominion to persuade them to change course ASAP, for their own good and for the good of 8 million Virginians. The fact that “Bad Dick Saslaw” won’t do that is extremely revealing, and not in any good way.