Clean Energy Act a win for environment, economy

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

In a recent Letter to the Editor, Charles G. Battig tarred the 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA): “Expect to see solar panels built across thousands of acres, which will decimate native habitats while leaching toxic chemicals into the soil.” Perhaps he would prefer to see fracked gas pipelines despoil these lands.

The Virginia Clean Economy Act pledges to transition our electric grid to 100% clean energy sources by 2050. Far from being an embrace of “radical environmentalism,” the bill has received overwhelming bipartisan support, with 73% of Virginians surveyed saying they support the advanced energy investments the VCEA lays forth.

Battig invokes the Michael Moore-produced “Planet of the Humans,” a widely debunked documentary that uses outdated and misleading data to denigrate clean energy alternatives. The film makes a number of erroneous claims, including that manufacturing solar and wind technologies requires “more fossil fuels ... than you’re getting benefit from.” Multiple studies, however, show that clean and renewable energy sources are making exponential gains in energy output in proportion to what it takes to produce them. In 2017, the journal Nature Energy published a report finding that the lifetime carbon footprints of solar, wind and nuclear power roughly are one-twentieth of those of coal and natural gas. Furthermore, a solar panel produces 26 times more energy during its operation than what went into its construction and installation; a wind turbine produces 44 times its own production costs.

I’m not sure why Battig calls the turbines in Dominion Energy’s forthcoming Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project “Spanish-built.” Their manufacturer — Ørsted Energy — is Danish, and the turbines will be built in Virginia. What’s more, a transition to clean energy in the commonwealth will create up to 13,000 jobs per year over the course of the VCEA, and will produce $69.7 billion in net benefits. With more than 500,000 Virginians recently jobless due to the coronavirus, the economic justification for a shift to clean energy never has been stronger.

Joseph Pickert.

Richmond.

Hanover NAACP lawsuit

a waste of county money

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

In the case of the Hanover NAACP lawsuit against Hanover County and its school board, U.S. District Judge Robert Payne made the correct decision when he dismissed the case.

The NAACP received poor legal advice from its law firm. It should have advised the NAACP that the statute of limitations on personal injury had expired and there were no specific individual claims by NAACP members. Therefore, the NAACP could not prevail in a lawsuit and it was dismissed. It was a spurious lawsuit. It never should have been filed.

The Hanover School Board’s legal defense against the lawsuit cost more than the $100,000 insurance policy it holds. Now the NAACP is talking about an appeal.

One wonders how many lawsuits are won every year because the accused simply cannot afford to fight. More than $100,000 is gone. For what?

Larnie C. Allgood Jr.

Mechanicsville.

Virginia can learn

from Hawaii’s example

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

“A carbon-free energy system is not only possible, but it is practical and necessary.” That’s how Hawaii sees its plans for a 100% clean energy economy. Dominion Energy’s new Integrated Resource Plan says something very different: Retire all carbon generation and we will “severely challenge the ability of the transmission system to meet customers’ reliability expectation.”

Dominion fiercely is holding onto the 100-year-old idea of the regulated central utility, while Hawaii is creating a framework for the new technologies that can generate and store electricity where we use it. In 2019, 80,000 rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems — 19% of all residences statewide — were in operation. On Oahu, 1 of every 3 residences has a rooftop solar system.

The state itself also has led by example. Public buildings have been retrofitted and on-site energy generation installed. The University of Hawaii will be supplied with 100% renewable power from on-site solar and storage. These efficient buildings are best accomplished by building owners, not the utility. Green Banks, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans and on-bill financing provide private, reasonably priced funding in many states.

The Solutions Project of Stanford University believes Virginia can reduce its total demand by as much as 42%. Another report from the Energy Transition Commission wrote that “expanding the electrification of water heating, space heating and cooking could replace 35% of fossil fuel use by 2040.” Demand reductions aren’t accomplished by the utility, especially a utility that operates according to the old paradigm of increased profits provided by owning more and more central generation.

The results of a restructured system will be cheaper utility bills for Virginians, a large reduction in environmentally caused health care costs, the kind of energy reliability and security the Department of Defense has been creating for its military bases since 2006 and meeting our global climate obligations.

Jane Twitmyer.

Roseland.

Single health care system limits treatment options

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

In Robert Redmon’s recent Letter to the Editor, “Americans need uniform health care system,” he writes: “Your health care … should not depend on the fiscal fortunes of your employer.” And, he says, “We should have a single system, as other countries have.”

Is Redmon referring to countries such as Great Britain, with its monopoly system, under which two infants, Alfie Evans and Charlie Gard, died? Gard was imprisoned by the system as his parents were not allowed to take him elsewhere, where others would have been glad to give him alternative help.

It was Benjamin Franklin who warned that those who are willing to sacrifice liberty for security will — in the end — have and deserve neither.

Jill Joybelle VanSise.

Richmond.

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