RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced a new energy plan intended to set energy policy in Virginia for the next several years.
Joined by representatives of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia League of Conservation Voters -- both of which co-sponsored the event -- he laid out the 2014 Virginia Energy Plan. The plan, he said, would address the Commonwealth's use of natural resources and make suggestions on how they are used. The plan touched on four major points -- expanding renewable energy, reducing energy consumption, strategic investment in energy technology, and preparation of the workforce.
McAuliffe told the audience he expected Virginia to be more energy independent and reliant on clean energy sources in four years.
Among the major points of the plan -- promoting renewable energy, especially nuclear energy. The report indicated renewable sources do not make up a large portion of energy generation in the Commonwealth, totaling about seven percent of energy generation in Virginia in 2010. That figure includes hydro, solar, wind, biomass and landfill gas.
The report pointed to the percentage as an opportunity for growth. It recommended relaxing caps on the scale of renewable projects as part of an effort to create an environment conducive to renewable energy's growth.
Reducing energy consumption
The plan called energy efficiency "the least-costly energy resource available today," suggesting reducing energy consumption in the public and private sectors. Doing so, it said, would reduce energy costs for consumers and reduce the need to build new energy plants.
To do that, a Chief Energy Efficiency Officer would be appointed. The official would be charged with reducing energy use and increasing energy efficiency. A new board made up of energy efficiency industry members would also be tasked with preparing a plan to help Virginia reduce retail energy consumption by ten percent by 2020.
Strategic investment in energy technology
The plan recommended investing in an infrastructure that can get energy to where it needed to go reliably and cheaply. It pointed to the 2014 winter as evidence of that, when many Virginians were hit with high energy bills. That was the result of the price of natural gas prices spiking from unusually high demand.
To this point, the plan called for investment in fueling options for cars and other vehicles converting to liquid natural gas and compressed natural gas. It also recommended investment in alternative fueling options in areas where there is the potential for an increase in the number of such vehicles.
In terms of transportation, alternative fuel options were also recommended. Virginia's transportation sector emitted more than 50 percent of Virginia's greenhouse gas, according to the report. The report also recommended state and local vehicle fleets convert to fleets based on alternative fuels.
Preparation of the workforce
According to the report, 40 percent of the energy workforce in the United States is set to retire or leave their job in the next five years. As a result, the report recommended expanding the Troops to Energy program, which trains veterans for work in the energy sector.
To this point, the report also pointed to a relatively low percentage of jobs in clean energy in the Commonwealth as being the cause of some clean energy companies not moving to Virginia.
According tot he report, energy sources come from:
- Petroleum, 34%
- Natural gas, 18%
- Nuclear, 13%
- Coal, 9%
- Other renewable, like biomass and hydro, 6%
- Outside the state, 20%