As I wrote on Saturday, a meeting this afternoon of the new Senate Commerce and Labor Subcommittee on Energy would start to give us an idea as to where the State Senate, now under narrow (21-19) Democratic control, might be headed with regard to Virginia’s energy policy. As you can see from the following video, the results were…mixed.
The bills under consideration this afternoon, and the results, were as follows:
- Sen. Barbara Favola’s SB 94 Virginia Energy Plan, which was a mess as originally introduced, but supposedly has been fixed and is signficantly better at this point (see here for a version from earlier today). PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE ON A 4-1 VOTE.
- Sen. Chap Petersen’s SB 504 (covenants regarding solar power, reasonable restrictions), which looks like an excellent bill that should pass. PASSED BY FOR THE DAY
- Sen. Dick Saslaw’s SB 782 (Undergrounding electric transmission lines; pilot program) and SB 784 (Transmission lines; relocation and undergrounding), which are the types of bills that require serious technical expertise to judge properly. BOTH PASSED BY FOR THE DAY
- Sen. Steve Newman’s SB 549 (Nuclear energy; strategic plan), which seems ok at first glance. PASSED UNANIMOUSLY
- Sen Lynwood Lewis’ SB 817 (Nuclear energy; considered a clean energy source), which I don’t really like, as nuclear energy is carbon-free but not “clean” in the same sense as energy efficiency, solar, wind, geothermal, etc. PASSED UNANIMOUSLY
- Sen. Lywnood Lewis’ SB 828 (Carbon-free energy and clean energy), which seems to be getting at a similar objective as his other bill. PASSED UNANIMOUSLY, EVEN AFTER THE SUPERB IVY MAIN OF THE SIERRA CLUB POINTED OUT, CORRECTLY, THAT BIOMASS IS *NOT* CARBON NEUTRAL
So overall, kind of mixed results. Sen. Favola’s bill, which passed, appears to be greatly improved from where it started out, but in the end, it’s not particularly strong or binding – more advisory in nature. Which is fine, as far as it goes, but the fact is what we need right now regarding the climate crisis is strong, urgent action, not advisories. As for SB828, the inclusion of biomass in there really hurts that bill, given that for the most part, traditional biomass (e.g,. cutting down trees to make wood pellets that can be burned to produce power) – as opposed to advanced biomass (e.g., algae, perhaps switchgrass) – is bad from a climate/environmental perspective. Finally, Sen. Saslaw’s bills on “undergrounding,” plus Sen. Petersen’s bill on covenants regarding solar power, which is an excellent bill, weren’t considered, making it hard to get a full read on this subcommittee. But so far, not terrible…and maybe not great, either. Stay tuned.