Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Virginia's "Confederate States of America"-Era Energy System

A must-read post over at Gristmill from Chesapeake Climate Action Network Executive Director Mike Tidwell:
[A]s the election approaches, here's the surprising question for every Northern Virginia voter: Why is this high-tech region, so dedicated to a "knowledge-based" economy, utterly dependent on an energy system as old as the Confederate States of America? Northern Virginia gets the lion's share of its electric power not from wind turbines or solar farms, but from coal. A shocking 1,180,400 tons of raw coal each year, nearly half of the area's total load. And it's not "clean coal" or "high-tech" coal. Just black, sooty, rip-it-from-the-ground-and-set-it-on-fire coal.

You'd think it would be different. You'd think Northern Virginia would be a leader in developing clean, sustainable energy at a level equal to its high-tech, high-education status.

You'd think. But two roadblocks stand in the way: Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) and mega-utility Dominion Power.
Tidwell concludes with a call for investments in efficiency to cut power bills, saying Virginians "use more electricity every day than 75 percent of the rest of America. Surely we could do much, much better." But Virginia's current system allows Dominion to reap the most profits by selling us the most power.

Of course, while Kaine and Dominion are the biggest roadlocks, General Assembly Republicans have shown no interest in cutting consumers' power bills or easing our dependence on dirty, expensive energy sources. And many General Assembly Democrats are, at best, speed bumps, reluctant to challenge Richmond's status quo.

Cross-posted from RK
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