Monday, February 4, 2008

The High Economic Cost of Virginia's Clean Energy Inaction

Why does Virginia's inaction on clean energy get me so riled up? Because of articles like this detailing how in states with renewable portfolio standards the wind industry can't train new workers fast enough:
The American Wind Energy Association, a Washington, D.C-based trade group, estimates the industry employs about 20,000 people, not including those making turbines or other equipment. [...]

At Columbia Gorge Community College in The Dalles, Ore., seven wind companies are working with the school as academic advisers. Several of the companies are also supporting the college financially, including a three-year $150,000 grant from PPM Energy and donated equipment from Arlington, Va.-based wind developer AES Corp.

"They are all just crammed to the gills with students," said Jeremy Norton, operations, maintenance and training manager for PPM Energy.

So why is a company based in Virginia sending six figures in grant money all the way out to Oregon? Because Oregon has set a state renewable portfolio standard of 25% by 2025, establishing a guaranteed demand and providing investors with market certainty. Virginia currently only has a voluntary goal of 12% by 2022, established as part of last year's Dominion re-regulation legislation.

That's why it's so critical on Monday afternoon for the Virginia Senate's Commerce and Labor Committee to pass the Clean Energy Future Act (SB446), which would establish both a 20% RPS and funding for green collar job training. Please email your legislator right now to ask them to support the Clean Energy Future Act, especially if your senator is on the committee.

As for the coal industry, there's a need for new workers there, as well. Why? According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1,500 miners die each year from black lung disease.

Cross-posted from Raising Kaine

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