The Energetic Debate

EA’s Utilities department makes an online appearance!

Utilities are getting a lot of press lately, from the battle over energy conversion to an increased demand for lineworkers, so we have a crash course for you this week to bring you up to date.

Virginia Clean Economy Act. A progressive agenda scored a battleground victory February 11 when Virginia lawmakers passed a clean energy act that will ensure renewable goals and impact power plants in the state. It could also raise electric bills by as much as 23%, some say. In all, the debate is a nasty one, pitting rich against poor, north against south, and of course, Democrat against Republican.

The Virginia Clean Economy Act is designed to achieve zero emissions for the state by 2050. It brings with it, however, a hotly contested battle between major energy influencers like Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power, and renewable advocates in the legislature accompanied by clean energy lobbyist groups. The Virginia Mercury details the fight here, equipped with a soap opera-like argument between state representatives.

A taster:

“What we’re doing is creating economic isolation of the rest of Virginia from the more affluent parts of the state,” said Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin. “Industry will not come to our area because of these regulations.”

vs.

“Northern Virginia is footing the bill for a large part of the state, and frankly I’m sick and tired of that being demagogued,” Senate Majority Leader Richard “Dick” Saslaw of Fairfax shot back shortly afterward.

Grocery list. In Texas, a proposed rate hike is hotly contested by a grocery store chain. Center Point Energy‘s frequent power outages allegedly caused spoiled food, requiring expensive backup generators. The Houston Chronicle reports:

Be Berry, Berry quiet. Maine representative Seth Berry’s bill LD1646 would take public ownership of two Maine utilities—Central Maine Power Co. and Emera Maine—if passed. Thus, representatives like Phil Curtis are opposing the legislation, while consumer groups like 350 Maine are all in. The bill is moving through the Maine State Legislature and would take public ownership of the state’s two utilities. The largest, CMP, has been especially controversial and was fined for its billing practices.

Eversource on Lantern Lane. In Martha’s Vineyard, part of Tisbury’s Lantern Lane is a little less picturesque today due to utilities action meant to deter dumping. New England utility Eversource is “doing this out of concerns for safety,” specifically to stop “repeated dumping” on the utility’s “distribution right of way” writes Rich Saltzberg of the Martha’s Vineyard Times.

Lineworker program from Volt. A new lineworker program from Volt Power and Texas State Technical College‘s Harlingen campus has 12 acres with 100 electrical poles to teach climbing, climbing safety, underground and overhead wiring, transmission and distribution systems. The Waco-based school is a major advocate for such programs; it also recently announced Tesla START, an accelerated 12-week training program designed to equip students with the skills necessary to become electric vehicle technicians.

Florida’s underground scene. The Punta Gorda, Fla., city council is considering a $1.7 million project to be paid for by owners of benefited property that would build all of the city’s electric and cable distribution underground.

Advantages would include much improved protection from hurricane conditions.

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