Google Visits Richmond in Search of Wind Power Partnership

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.

Offshore wind energy platform - Image courtesy Treehugger.com

“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