Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions

Virginia Gubernatorial Candidates Energy Policy Comparison

andrea, November 2, 2017

FACS hosted a “Dialogue on Virginia’s Energy Future” with Democratic Candidate for Governor, Ralph Northam on Monday, August 14, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. at the Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge, an event attended by nearly 200 people. On Tuesday, October 17th at 1:00 p.m., FACS held a similar dialogue with Republican Candidate for Governor Ed Gillespie’s Policy Director, Generra Peck. The event was held via webinar. Below are some of their responses to questions asked about their energy policies.

  • Energy and Environment Legacy: What would you like your legacy to be in terms of your policy?
    • Ralph Northam:
      • After 4 years as I’ve said we will be well on our way to renewable energy and 30 percent of our energy that’s produced will be from renewable energy and that we will be putting less and less carbon into our atmosphere.
      • It’s up to us to handle sea level rise and to understand global warming, climate change and do something about it as a society.
    • Ed Gillespie’s Policy Director, Generra Peck:
      • Ed recognizes that the responsibility and challenge to the next governor is going to be to balance Virginia’s energy needs and our opportunities with the responsibility of caring for and protecting our environment while ensuring Virginia’s best position for economic growth.
      • Advancing Virginia as a leader in energy but also making sure that we are taking advantage of the benefits that would come from the energy innovation opportunities that we have. Make sure that not only providing affordable reliable energy to Virginians but also take advantage of research benefit to solutions

 

  • Pipelines : Virginians are very concerned about what the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines will do to their communities and to the environment. How would you ensure everyone’s voices are heard?
    • Ralph Northam:
      • First, everyone should have a voice –I will have the Environmental Task Force  review this project and make sure that it is done with transparency, scientifically, and with people’s property lines in mind.
      • Second, there are interstate projects involved. In Virginia,  agencies like DEQ and Corps of Engineers are in charge of permitting. I would like to change the permitting process from what we call a blanket permit to a site-specific thing. Let agencies do the work, they have the tools. Let them make their recommendations.
      • Third, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will make the final decision once the first and second are done.
    • Ed Gillespie’s Policy Director, Generra Peck:
      • Ed has continued to support the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.
      • Make sure that there are partnerships that  work together with the faith-based community, along with government, along with business, along with nonprofits that perhaps represent many individuals that feel left behind in in our economy
  • Dominion power: How would you accomplish the clean/renewable/efficient energy goal given the Dominions ownership of the state legislators.
    • Ralph Northam:
      • I have tried to work with Dominion over the years and will continue the work with them. I have a relationship with the Dominion; they know how strongly I feel about renewable energy, about being good stewards of the environment. They know I have sat on these climate change commissions. They know I understand global warming.
      • Dominion plays a part in developing a new Virginia economy. It has a job of providing the competitive price of energy to help business grow in Virginia, especially rural Virginia.
      • What we need to do is look at the big picture. Be realistic.
      • As you all know, in Virginia right now there are absolutely no limits [to campaign contributions]. In order to get there, we need people from both sides of house politically to sit down and agree, and we fought campaign finance reform. It’s not just the Dominion. It is a lot of different companies. Everybody should come to the table and work on campaign finance reform together.
    • Ed Gillespie’s Policy Director, Generra Peck:
      • Dominion is certainly an important corporate citizen regarding utilities and regulated by the commonwealth and State Corporation Commission. They have a role in anything that we do within state government.
      • As governor he would direct his Secretary of Commerce and Trade to convince the stakeholders to include industry and general assembly leadership to investigate regulations with a principal goal of maintaining stable affordable and competitive electric utility rates to attract business and protecting the family budget. Exploring how we can best utilize a [smart grid] task force to bring folks together from those that run utilities to stakeholders who care about this information as well as policymakers and legislators.
  • Renewable energy goals/policies: What would you do to incentivize renewable energy?
    • Ralph Northam:
      • 30 percent of our energy that’s produced will be from renewable energy.
      • I want to do everything I can to incentivize solar. One of the challenges to using renewable energy is how to store energy. As we move forward with technology and are better able to store energy then we’ll be able to not only use it for our homes but also put it back on the grid. That is not going to happen overnight.
      • To expand the University of Virginia wide and to bring talent into that area and also attract students out of state and out of the country that will come to Virginia and finance the university. We can branch out and teach our young folks how to generate renewable energy, how to make solar panels and wind turbines.
    • Ed Gillespie’s Policy Director, Generra Peck:
      • Create a smart grid task force that will be comprised of key stakeholders to evaluate recommendations to strengthen and advance our grid and increase integration of renewable energy like solar wind, improvement of the customer experience and critically improve our resiliency.
      • Three categories of Ed’s policy agenda for energy are: Improving our infrastructure and grid security, ensuring affordable reliable energy for all Virginians, and advancing clean energy and innovation.
      • He is a strong supporter of the hydro power. He is also very much supportive of building a revenue sharing agreement and about regional collaboration and cooperation.
  • Public health: How to solve public health problem under the global warming era
    • Ralph Northam:
      • A lot of health issues are preventative. If you can prevent it, then you are going to save a lot of money on the back end.
      • Understand the science of it and do the right thing for the Commonwealth of Virginia.
    • Ed Gillespie’s Policy Director, Generra Peck:
      • It’s really about Virginians being able to live healthy lives.
      • It’s not something that can be the Secretary of Health and Human Resources’ sole responsibility. This is something that must be comprehensive and across state government and if it’s asthma or lyme disease or any other category as a health challenge we need to be looking at not just from the Secretary of Health and Human Resources this is going to include the Secretary of Education  and Natural Resources.
      • Ed will review public health challenges recognizing that there’s multiple causes, multiple pressures coming into the Commonwealth that we need to respond to in a more thoughtful and comprehensive way