‘Technology has changed’: State leaders, public continue talks on 2018 Virginia Energy Plan

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Dozens of people came to the Capitol Monday to share their thoughts on the 2018 Virginia Energy Plan.

The plan is updated every four years and serves as a “blueprint” for energy policy over the next decade, according to Al Christopher, the Director the Energy Division at the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

“Technology has changed a lot, so we will be looking at some new areas,” Christopher said, including wind, solar and battery storage. “[The plan is] a living document and can be updated to reflect changes.”

The plan is being developing under Virginia Code (Ch. 2 of Title 67) and the Commonwealth’s Energy Objectives. These try to address energy consumption and ways to promote renewable energy options. A common factor seen in these, Christopher says is job creation.

“It is a focus in energy policy, and in the Commonwealth it always has been,” he said. “The change in technology and especially in renewable energy, and battery storage for example, provides great opportunity for economic benefit.”

Nurse Erica Bardwell drove all the way from Arlington to tell Virginia Solar Energy Development and Energy Storage Authority, members of the Department of Commerce and Trade as well as the Dept. of Mines, Minerals and Energy what she thinks should be put into the plan.

“The kinds of decisions they make here today are going to affect people’s health in so many ways,” Bardwell said. “Depending on how we decide to make our energy, people are breathing in soot.”

A hotly debated issue, pipelines, was brought up by a number of speakers. They said the focus should be on alternative energy, instead of continuing to promote fossil fuels.

“These alternatives might sound radical, but they’re actually less radical than business as usual,” Bardwell said.

The plan is expected to be given to the Governor, State Corporation Commission and General Assembly on Oct. 1. There are a number of other public meetings still happening throughout the summer before the plan is handed over. You can also submit comments online before August 24. 

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