By Jamie Nolan
Nearly two hundred notable leaders and grassroots activists from across Virginia gathered in Richmond Saturday to promote new jobs and clean energy at the commonwealth’s first citizens’ conference on offshore wind power. Political leaders and environmentalists sat next to investment partners with Google Inc. to make the case for offshore wind energy, ending with a colorful march to the steps of the State Capitol.
“In a stalled economy, few industries have the potential to bring more jobs to the commonwealth than the renewable offshore wind industry,” said Terry McAuliffe, clean energy advocate and Chairman of GreenTech Automotive Corp. “Offshore wind relies on American ingenuity and innovation to provide the clean, domestically-produced energy we need, while offering an opportunity to provide thousands of quality jobs for Virginians.”
Sponsors and key participants at the daylong conference called on Dominion Virginia Power to include offshore wind energy in its 2011 Integrated Resources Plan, a ten-year plan laying out how the utility intends to meet future electricity demand. They also called on Governor Bob McDonnell and the General Assembly to remove policy barriers and create incentives for the development of offshore wind energy, working with Dominion to ensure that Virginia claims its position as a leader in the burgeoning offshore wind energy industry.
Participants included renowned business leaders and clean energy advocates Terry McAuliffe and Robert Mitchell of Atlantic Wind Connection, the Trans-Elect/Google, Inc. offshore wind transmission project, State Senator Donald McEachin, and notable environmental leaders like Mike Tidwell with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Jackie Savitz with Oceana, among others.
Studies show that Virginia could power 700,000 homes by the end of this decade with modern wind turbines placed ten miles or more off the Atlantic shoreline. This would create thousands of jobs and help stabilize electricity rates while reducing harmful global warming pollution.
“Rarely do you see such a strong coalition of environmentalists and political and business leaders united behind a common cause,” said Mike Tidwell of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, one of the key sponsors of the event. “But when you’ve got the chance to create jobs, protect consumers from rising fossil fuel prices, and help fight climate change, you’ve got the ultimate win-win-win.”
“Energize Virginia: A Citizens’ Summit on Offshore Wind Energy” was sponsored by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, Green Jobs Alliance, Interfaith Power & Light, the Southern Environmental Law Center, and the Virginia Conservation Network.
Jamie Nolan is Communications Director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network