With the population of Virginia continuing to grow, we mustn’t limit our choices regarding energy production. All the above approach is essential in helping to ensure that we have safe, reliable energy to power homes, school, and businesses. Without reliable energy production throughout the Commonwealth, manufacturing will not return to Virginia. While I agree that we need to expand renewable energy production, such as wind and solar, they are not ready to be the only sources of energy production and will not be for decades. Countries in Europe, such as Denmark, which has a similar population to Virginia, have been building offshore wind since the 1970s and can only get approximately 49% of their energy from wind power. That’s almost 50 years to get to nearly 50%. That is double what the legislature mandated in 2020 in half the time. The 2020 Clean Economy Act set the Commonwealth up to fail. Including Nature Gas, Carbon Capture, and Nuclear will get Virginia to its clean energy goals, along with an increase in Wind, Solar, and Electric cars. Everything we do should not just benefit the climate but the Commonwealth too. Eliminating Natural Gas, not advocating for more nuclear, and ignoring carbon capture while importing energy from states like West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, which still burn natural gas and coal, do not do this.
Another aspect we need to consider is workers. We need to ensure that we take care of workers in these industries. As we increase construction on any form of energy production, the industry will create new jobs. The key is for those jobs to provide family sustain wages and benefits and training with a registered apprenticeship that will lead to a career. The fossil fuel and nuclear industries are more likely to provide these because of the need for a highly skilled workforce. While the wind industry is trying to improve its workforce and is building its offshore wind under a project labor agreement helping to benefit the workers and the community, the solar sector prefers low-skill/low-pay workers who they can exploit. Workers are earning a family-sustaining wage with benefits such as healthcare and retirement savings, which help to reduce the need for taxpayer-funded assistance and support to grow local businesses because these workers will now be able to spend more money at these businesses.
A final aspect we need to consider is expanding the community benefit. The parts used to build all the necessary equipment for energy production should be made in America. Solar Panels, Windmill Blades, pipes, etc. should all be made in the USA, not in China. Buying parts from American manufacturers, or even better, Virginia manufacturers, will ensure that the jobs building and installing these parts will go to American workers.