Job creation important to Fifth

Column by Tom Perriello

My top priority is supporting job creation in Southside and Central Virginia, and I believe one key part of this will be putting our area at the forefront of the clean energy economy. In the next few decades, we will see a huge boom of energy-related advanced manufacturing, agriculture, and retro-fitting. We can watch as those jobs and economic opportunities go to China and India, or we can decide that American-made energy is worth our investment. We can rebuild our region as the future clean energy capital of our Commonwealth and our country.

I was thrilled last week to make a funding announcement in Martinsville that is a major down payment on this clean-energy vision for our area. Using funds from the stimulus bill, companies in Chatham, Bassett, Martinsville, and Cumberland will be able to jumpstart their energy businesses not only creating jobs and short-term boosts for the local economy, but long-term investments in our region’s competitive advantage.

Here’s a snapshot of the projects receiving funding:

Dairy Energy Inc. (Chatham: The state’s third-largest dairy farm milking 1,000 dairy cows, will receive $1 million to install the state’s first commercially-sized dairy anaerobic digester project. This will allow them to use methane captured on their dairy and convert it into energy that they can both use to power their dairy and sell back to the electric grid.

Martinsville Sanitary Landfill (Martinsville): Facing high unemployment and other economic challenges, Martinsville will receive $1 million to utilize landfill gas to generate electricity, which will help the City save on its energy costs, create jobs, and possibly reduce utility costs for residents and businesses.

Red Birch Energy Inc. (Bassett): This truck stop in Henry County will receive $750,000 to use glycerin, a waste-product of their biodiesel production process, to power a microturbine to generate electricity.

Ag-Renewable Resources LLC (Cumberland County): This innovative project will receive $300,000 to construct a first of its kind in Virginia anaerobic digester to use poultry waste to generate methane and generate electricity. The project will also produce 14 metric tons per day of treated solids that can be used for agricultural fertilizer. The project will result in new construction jobs and two permanent, full-time jobs to run the facility.

In addition to these energy businesses, more good news from the stimulus bill came to our school districts last week. The legislation is providing zero-interest bonds to help schools become more energy efficient, saving operating costs at a time when our schools face deep budget cuts. The projects also have the potential to create immediate construction jobs. Here is a snapshot of those schools in the Fifth District receiving funding:

Greene County: $2,425,879 total for upgrades at the Greene County Technical Education Center, Nathanael Greene Elementary School, Ruckersville Elementary School, William Monroe High School, and William Monroe Middle School.

Lunenburg County: $1,172,948 for renovation projects at Central High School.

City of Martinsville: $1,050,749 total for projects at Martinsville Middle School, Albert Harris Elementary School, and Patrick Henry Elementary School.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Central and Southside Virginia can be leaders in the field of energy independence. Soon we will enjoy the freedom to not send our energy dollars overseas to countries who hate us, and have the opportunity for new jobs and economic development right here in our backyard. Virginians stand ready; we have the soil, the history, the drive, and the innovation. I’m thrilled to help deliver these valuable investments to match our tireless spirit of entrepreneurship and independence.

Please feel free to contact me to share your concerns and ideas. You may call 1-888-4-TOM4US (1-888-486-6487); write to 1520 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515; or visit to sign up for my weekly e-newsletter.


Tom Perriello represents the Fifth District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives.


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