News | August 14, 2015

SELC op-ed: Clean Power Plan can boost Virginia’s economy

Senior Attorney Frank Rambo's op-ed in the Roanoke Times outlines how Virginia can best position itself to benefit from EPA's recently finalized Clean Power Plan. Rambo leads SELC's regional Clean Energy & Air Program, a key focus of which is the retirement of old, polluting, coal-burning plants and increasing investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

To read the full op-ed, click here. A portion of the editorial is included below.

“Despite some of the political bluster, the reality is the Clean Power Plan is easily achievable for Virginia, a state that’s projected to be more than 80 percent of the way toward its 2030 carbon reduction goal. This is thanks to retirements of old coal plants and to clean energy projects already under way. So the question is not whether we can comply with the Clean Power Plan but how we can do so in a way that best benefits Virginians.

“The Clean Power Plan provides unprecedented opportunity to create new jobs and drive economic activity. Virginia will need cleaner and more affordable energy choices to meet our targets, and we’ll need new jobs to achieve this — jobs to produce power from cleaner sources like solar and wind, and jobs to make better use of the energy we produce through installing energy efficiency measures.

“Generating these new jobs requires us to make smarter decisions about how we generate energy in Virginia.

“Let’s build on the positive momentum already under way in Virginia with recent investments in clean energy and energy efficiency. In the first quarter of 2015, Virginia ranked seventh nationally in clean energy job growth. Gov. McAuliffe has estimated that nearly 40,000 energy efficiency jobs can be created here in Virginia, with thousands more “boots on the roof” solar jobs within reach. These are good-paying, local jobs that could help Virginia become No. 1 in clean energy job growth.

“Virginia’s smartest strategies to meet the Clean Power Plan do not require a seismic shift but instead reflect the energy transitions already under way in our state. Legislation passed this spring supports new solar projects from our utilities, and expands a net metering program that makes rooftop solar far more affordable for consumers. The jobs will follow: If Virginia expands its use of solar from our current level of 0.2 percent to just 2 percent over the next five years, 14,500 construction jobs would be created.

“We now have the greatest incentive for our utilities to invest even more in clean energy options like wind and solar — and to do it sooner rather than later. The bottom line is we need the Clean Power Plan to protect Virginia’s vulnerable resources from climate change, but we can also use it to accelerate our region’s job-generating shift to clean power.”