Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, along with various members of the General Assembly, has once again favored special interest and corporate profits over Virginia’s jobs and quality of life. Cuccinelli has advocated passage of HB2261, which would reduce bonuses paid to Dominion and Appalachian Electric Power (AEP) companies as incentives to diversify their energy portfolios by deriving more energy from clean renewable sources rather than fossil fuels.
Both power companies have asked for this legislation to pass and claim it would reduce utility rates. While utility rates are a pocket book concern for the average Virginian, this bill would kill thousands of jobs which could have been created assembling new wind turbines and nuclear power plants which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save oil and gas supplies. In addition, utility prices are sticky downward, meaning it is likely the power companies will resist lowering rates once the bonuses have been reduced.
HB2261 is another instance in which policymakers have chosen to ignore the progression of global climate change. Although climate change is a global issue, Virginia must be a part of the solution locally. The effects of climate change in Virginia can be seen through warmer winters, higher sea levels on the eastern shore and hurricanes such as Irene.
Many policymakers want to expand energy supplies from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. However, unlike fossil fuels, wind turbines and solar panels use a free and unlimited supply of energy and do not cause offshore spills or methane explosions in underground mines. Manufacturing renewable energy conductors could become a thriving blue-collar sector replacing those lost by phasing out coal and oil production. Virginia could have a productive, healthy, clean-energy economy, but only if citizens oppose legislation such as HB2261 and recognize their utility bills will drastically fall if Dominion and AEP take advantage of free, unlimited energy sources.