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McAuliffe unveils part one of Business Plan

I like people who think in terms of business plans. So I’m beginning to like Terry McAuliffe. “I’m taking the same approach to figuring out how to get our economy going again that I’ve taken with businesses I’ve started or turned around. I’m starting with a Business Plan for Virginia,” said McAuliffe, a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for governor, unveiling on Wednesday the first part of his Business Plan for Virginia, related to energy and green jobs.

The McAuliffe plan would set a mandatory renewable portfolio standard of 25 percent by 2025, pushing the Commonwealth down the renewable-energy spectrum that should also drive economic activity related to the new standard, and also establishes a digestor gas-to-electricity rebate offering a $500 per kilowatt capacity incentive for new digestor gas systems that produce energy that will be used on-site and can be used to convert animal waste into energy.

The plan includes another plank involving the siting, development and construction of at least one large wind project offshore that McAuliffe thinks could eventually meet 20 percent of the state’s energy needs.

“Here in Virginia we already have the resources to develop a thriving renewable energy sector, whether it’s the wind of our coast or the hundreds of thousands of tons of agricultural waste we produce every year,” McAuliffe said. “Virginia’s next governor must look to creative solutions to increase our renewable energy production, provide incentives to develop new technologies, and encourage businesses and families to adopt clean and efficient energy sources.”

The business plan from McAuliffe also focuses efforts on improving energy efficiency by requiring utilities to invest in cost-effective energy efficiency before they can pursue new energy generation, establishing a $100 mllion Energy Independence Revolving Loan Fund to retrofit homes with more energy efficient equipment, and taking steps to reduce the state government’s carbon footprint.

“One of the most overlooked ways to address the increasing demand for energy while also creating good jobs is to pursue efficiency measures,” McAuliffe said. “By cutting the growth in energy consumption, utilities will not have to invest millions of dollars in new power plants and transmission lines – costs that ultimately are passed on to consumers for decades.”

It’s not just going green for going green’s sake, either.

“Making sure our workers are trained for jobs in alternative and renewable energy jobs is key to our ability to transform our energy consumption and improve our economic outlook,” McAuliffe said. “To make Virginia the center of these future growth industries, we must ensure that Virginia has the best-trained workforce in the country for these industries and the skills they demand.”

The spokesman for one of McAuliffe’s rivals for the Democratic Party nomination, Brian Moran, noted his candidate’s initiatives in the energy area and welcomed McAuliffe to the discussion of the green economy.

“For six weeks, Brian Moran has been rolling out bold, progressive policy solutions, and we are glad to see Mr. McAuliffe finally join the debate,” Moran spokesman Jesse Ferguson said. “Brian Moran has been promoting an agenda that creates new green jobs, protects our environment, provides health care for every child and keeps families in their homes. Democratic leaders across the Commonwealth are supporting this bold agenda because it is backed up by the 20 years Brian Moran has been fighting for people, traveling the state, and working side-by-side with Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.”

Ferguson also set off a he-said, he-said battle with claims that McAuliffe supports a new coal megaplant in Surry County and offshore oil drilling that McAuliffe campaign spokesman Mo Elleithee said “mischaracterized” where he is on both issues.

“Terry has been clear throughout this campaign that with his plan, Virginia would become a leader in creating renewable energy jobs – enough so that we would not need any new coal plants,” Elleithee said. “He has, like Brian Moran, said that we need cleaner coal in Virginia, and has expressed concern that the proposed new plant in Surry does not meet that standard. While the next governor will not have a say in this new plant, what he can do is make sure that we have new energy jobs, and training for those workers who will benefit from the transition a green economy.

“Terry also has been clear that he opposes any offshore drilling for oil. He supports Virginia’s bipartisan approach, supported by Gov. Kaine and Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly, that allows for limited exploration of natural gas only, fifty miles off of Virginia’s coast. Brian Moran was right when he voted for that bill,” Elleithee said.

“The fact is, Terry has been outspoken throughout his campaign in his support for an approach that creates new jobs through renewable energy. He’s proud that all of the Democratic candidates are talking about these issues. Bob McDonnell has a very different approach on these issues, and if Terry is fortunate to win the nomination, he looks forward to having a vigorous debate with him in the general election,” Elleithee said.


Story by Chris Graham