This letter to the editor appeared in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch.
At Gov. Bob McDonnell’s energy conference, the participation spoke for itself. Virginians want renewable energy. As an attendee at the conference, I was struck by the fact that the sessions covering renewable energy topics were relegated to tiny meeting rooms, while the sessions about traditional fossil fuel sources were granted huge spaces similar to a college lecture hall.
The irony of this? The renewable energy sessions were jam-packed while the fossil fuel sessions were nearly empty. After the first day, event organizers moved the “dirty energy” sessions into much smaller spaces, but a common theme emerged during the three-day conference: We want clean energy but the state is falling behind the pack.
Presenter Cody Nystrom from SJF Ventures noted that companies located in states with mandatory renewable portfolio standards (RPS) have a much greater chance of receiving funding for clean energy projects than non-RPS states like Virginia.
Meanwhile, McDonnell claims to be fully committed to his “energy capital of the East Coast” idea. If he’s serious about that, he must not sit idly by and continue to allow surrounding states to reap the benefits of tax revenue and jobs from new clean energy projects.
Following the conference, it became more clear than ever that Virginia is ready to move beyond dirty fossil fuels and we have the strong economic incentives and necessary support from state energy professionals to make this overdue shift. It’s high time McDonnell and the General Assembly stopped planning energy conferences and started acting to give the burgeoning clean energy sector the support it sorely needs. We’re ready.