Conference Explores VA Rush to Copy CA Energy

by Steve Haner

Californians were again this week under an electricity “flex alert,” a conservation order required because of its reliance on unreliable solar and wind energy. They often cannot keep up with demand on the hotter days. Is this Virginia’s future? The government is telling Californians:

  • Set your thermostat at 78° or higher
  • Avoid using major appliances
  • Turn off unnecessary lights
  • Use fans for cooling
  • Unplug unused items.

The return of this power shortfall comes just days before Governor Gavin Newsom faces a recall vote, with this growing crisis being cited by some of his opponents. It is also a distant cloud on Virginia’s horizon as early voting begins here next week in the elections for statewide offices and the House of Delegates.

Virginia has rushed to copy California’s climate-fear and rent-seeking driven solar and wind energy scheme.

Of all the ways Virginia’s new Democratic majority has remade the state, the move to unreliable energy sources will have the greatest impact on business and family budgets over coming decades. Once completed the transformation’s costs will likely exceed that of all the various tax increases imposed. Two of the new energy taxes, one a carbon tax and the other to fund a subsidy for low-income electricity users, begin to raise energy prices this month.

The consumer impact (cost and lifestyle) of the various energy transformation measures will be the topic of Thursday’s Virginia Energy Consumer Conference, with another proposed carbon tax – the Transportation and Climate Initiative – the topic of my planned presentation. The various presentations can be streamed live if you pre-register here.

No election in recent memory has presented such clear contrasts on so many issues. Energy policy is a major one so far ignored by most campaigns  Another of Thursday’s presenters, a Northern Virginia attorney affiliated with the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), framed the contrast in a recent article for a national audience on the website Real Clear Energy.

“We need an electric grid which is stable, and we absolutely have to change direction,” Republican nominee for Governor Glenn Youngkin told E&E News on May 7.  “We must change direction from the clean energy plan which was passed … because it is not doable, affordable or good for Virginia.” That is the one clear statement from his campaign to date.

In contrast with that, CFACT’s Collister Johnson, Jr. in his article cited pledges from Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe to double down on the already aggressive pledges to get the state to at least a net-zero position (undefined, always undefined) by 2045 or 2050.  McAuliffe would push to get it done a decade sooner. Johnson is part of a GOP group seeking repeal of the centerpiece Virginia Clean Economy Act, topic of a previous post.

McAuliffe’s complete flip from the state’s biggest cheerleader for two controversial natural gas pipelines to becoming another loyal soldier in the War on Fossil Fuels is being ignored by both his opponents and the media, and thus remains invisible to the general voters.

Will he, for example, push forward with the plans to join that Transportation and Climate Initiative? Governor Ralph Northam passed on his first real opportunity to put it before the legislature in this past session. Northam had also promised not to attempt to impose new taxes and rationing on motor fuels without that direct vote of the legislature.

McAuliffe, with this issue still under the radar, has made no such promise to follow the regular routine for imposing a tax or joining an interstate compact. He started the process to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative as a regulatory end run around the legislature, so the playbook is established.

The TCI battle rages in New England, where both Connecticut and Rhode Island supporters did push the issue in their legislatures this year but have failed so far. The unions have now added their muscle in Connecticut, following a promise that their workers would get the jobs flowing from the TCI taxes collected in that state.

In Massachusetts TCI advocates claim a previous law allows it to implement the taxes and rationing without any legislative action, but now opponents have grabbed the initiative and will subject TCI to a voter referendum in 2022. As of this moment, only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia are in a position to move, and that hardly qualifies as a regional compact.

The highlight of Thursday morning is likely to be a pre-recorded keynote presentation from Michael Shellenberger, best-selling author of “Apocalypse Never: While Environmental Alarmist Harms Us All.” A Californian himself, he is actively campaigning against Newsom, in part because of Newsom’s efforts to shut down the best clean energy source of all, nuclear.