An op-ed in yesterday's Virginian-Pilot is a must-read for anyone who cares not just about Virginia's energy and economic future, but really about any state in the country. The following are a few key points by Virginia Advanced Energy Industries Coalition (VAEIC) President Francis Hodsoll regarding the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC)'s recent "analysis" (using the word loosely) of the EPA's Clean Power Plan. Note that the mission of VAEIC is to "[promote] open markets for clean and secure advanced energy technologies in order to create jobs and position Virginia as a magnet for talent and innovation in the advanced energy sector."
- "[N]eighboring Mid-Atlantic states [have] created 290,000 clean energy jobs while Virginia [has] stood still." Does that make any sense?
- Making even less sense is that the Virginia SCC is now "aggressively trying to block the creation of entire new clean energy industries" in our state. To put it mildly, in Hodsoll's view, this is "a strange position for an agency with a mission that includes improving public service and providing objective, timely and expert assistance." We couldn't agree more.
- *The SCC's recent "analysis" of the EPA's Clean Power Plan is, among other things, "inexplicably flawed and error-filled" (e.g., "the SCC assumed that Virginia would cut pollution in the most expensive way possible - building a new nuclear plant, with a price tag above $20 billion").
- *How flawed is the SCC's analysis? Example: their "analysts" falsely claimed "that the EPA ignores the costs of retiring old, dirty power plants that will be retired anyway." In fact, "over 60 percent of that [coal-fired] generation capacity - 1,796 megawatts - was already going to be mothballed" anyway. And, Hodsoll adds: "The remaining retirements represent just 4 percent of total state electricity needs. That's something basic energy efficiency and clean energy can easily replace."
- *The SCC also ignores a few important facts, such as: "Solar modules costs have plunged 80 percent since 2008. Wind turbines costs are down 29 percent. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates solar dropping another 12 percent this year." That's why corporate America is scrambling to build solar power, Hodsoll correctly points out - "because it makes economic sense" right now (and even more so every year that goes by).
- *Now here's the truly insidious part: "Not only did [the SCC] ignore the facts, its staff aggressively publicized this 'report.' The only rationale I can assume is this anti-growth, anti-business community 'report' was meant to force Gov. Terry McAuliffe to turn away from a $1 billion a year opportunity to create jobs and save consumers money." Obviously, this not acceptable, and in Hodsoll's view, the SCC "staff members who wrote this document should be called to account."
In sum, this is a superb fact check by a leading clean energy group (and its President, Francis Hodsoll), exactly what cleantech supporters should be doing when reports like this are published. Great job! We'd just add that it would be nice if the media, instead of acting as stenographers for this deeply flawed "analysis" by this pro-coal agency, would have critically analyzed this hit job on clean energy. As for Virginia Gov. McAuliffe, he should file the SCC "analysis" where it belongs - the good old "circular file."