Fort Valley Lyceum – Investing in the Future with Solar Energy

Saturday, October 13th, 2012 – 9:30 am – Coffee and Greeting

10:00 am – Talk Begins

Location – Fort Valley Community Center

Investing in the Future with Solar Energy

Colin Williams from Mountain View Solar is an advocate for renewable energy beyond the typical workday by serving on local boards and task forces, and speaking on solar energy and green living.

Let’s make solar a reality in Virginia. Take action now!


Dear Barb,

Let Solar Work for Virginia: Tell the VCC and Dominion we need more solar energy now

My name is Ivy Main, Renewable Energy Chair for the Virginia Sierra Club. I know that investing in clean, renewable energy will create a Virginia economy that’s built to last with good-paying jobs and healthier communities.

I have worked tirelessly over the past decade to bring clean energy like solar power to Virginia, and have realized that our clean energy future has hit a major obstacle — Dominion Virginia Power.

I recently highlighted this reality in my article, Why Virginia lags on solar,1 but I am writing today becauseyou and I have an important opportunity to support a long overdue step in making Virginia-made clean energy a reality.

Let’s make solar a reality in Virginia. Take action now!

On September 19th the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) will host an official hearing to approve a Community Solar Power Program proposed by Dominion Virginia Power.2

The proposal would allow Dominion to construct and operate up to 30 megawatts (MW) of solar, enough to power nearly 6,000 homes. This is small step for Dominion, but it’s a move in the right direction for the health of our families.

Tell Dominion and the SCC to invest in a clean energy future you support this initial solar proposal, but still want Dominion to do more.

Right now, the Dominion definition of a clean energy future is to build just 33 MW of Virginia-made clean energy compared and 5,075 MW of dirty energy by 2027!3 This is the reality of clean energy in Virginia even though the Commonwealth has far more capacity for solar power4 than New Jersey, which has already constructed 850 MW of solar with nearly 600 MW more to come.5

Dominion’s legacy is rooted in Virginia, and the company has the power to be a job creation engine for our future by making exciting, innovative and large-scale clean energy projects like this one a reality, but they must do more. Our health, our communities and our environment depend on it.

You can make a difference. Tell the SCC you support Virginia-made clean energy and the Dominion Solar Power Proposal, but want them to do more.

Thanks for all you do to protect the environment,

Ivy Main
Renewable Energy Chair
Virginia Chapter
Sierra Club

P.S. After you take action, be sure to forward this alert to your friends and colleagues!



1. Ivy Main, Why Virginia lags on solar
2. Dominion Energy, Community Solar Power Program
3. Dominion Energy, Integrated Resource Planning 2012
4. The Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, A Study of Increased Uses of Renewable Energy Resources in Virginia
5. New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program, Solar Energy Installations

ODEC Puts Coal Plant on Ice

ODEC Puts Coal Plant on Ice

Clean energy groups rejoice but vow to stay vigilant

For Immediate Release – August 9, 2012

Dendron, Va. — On behalf of thousands of Virginians who opposed plans for what would have been one of the state’s biggest polluting power plants, the Wise Energy for Virginia Coalition today rejoiced at news that Old Dominion Electric Cooperative is suspending plans for its proposed coal plant in Hampton Roads.

Coalition member groups said they hope to work with ODEC to implement programs and projects that provide cleaner, more affordable and climate-friendly sources of energy for its customers, but pledged to keep a close eye on the utility to ensure it does not revive the coal plant idea in the future.

ODEC sent an email newsletter to its “Friends of Cypress Creek” listserve yesterday saying it is suspending permitting activity for the 1,500-megawatt, $6 billion plant it proposed to build in Surry County, where residents have fought fiercely over the past several years to stop the proposal. Company executives had hinted at this decision in recent months, but this is ODEC’s first public statement clarifying the status of the controversial proposal.

The coal industry has been declining in recent months due largely to market forces, driving up costs and compelling utilities around the country to look to a variety of other sources to generate electricity. ODEC, in its email newsletter, acknowledged that changing energy markets contributed to its decision, but also blamed environmental regulations. The Wise Energy for Virginia Coalition credits the outcome in large part to years of mounting pressure from citizens in Surry County and Hampton Roads, and from ODEC’s own member/customers, followed by recent changes in the market.

Five local governments, all downwind from the proposed plant, had passed resolutions of concern or in opposition to the plant. In addition, the coalition said, more than 8,000 people opposed to the coal plant had signed a petition, which will be delivered to the Corps of Engineers later this month. The coalition has outstanding requests under the Freedom of Information Act to the federal agency, which was conducting a requisite environmental study on the coal plant.

Comments from opponents follow:

“ODEC is doing the right thing. People are concerned about committing to 50 years or more of burning coal. Even though ODEC said it would build the cleanest coal plant east of the Mississippi, it still would have been one of the largest polluters in Virginia. There’s no way around it – coal is a dirty and costly proposition, from mountaintop removal coal mining to burning it to dumping the ash. We can do better,” said Mike McCoy, Virginia campaign coordinator for Appalachian Voices.

“The suspension of plans for this plant, which would belch as much carbon dioxide as about 2 million cars, is a great sign for the fight against climate change. We look forward to seeing ODEC move away from fossil fuels and toward a future powered by wind and solar energy,” said Beth Kemler, Virginia state director with Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

“Delaying the Surry County coal plant is a step in the right direction, but ODEC really needs to move away from fossil fuels, investing in efficiency, wind and solar power now,” said Glen Besa, director of the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club.

“A new peer-reviewed study now links summertime weather extremes to global warming. Given that, ODEC’s decision to suspend the coal plant and pursue other alternatives is great news and a breath of fresh air for families throughout Hampton Roads,” said Cale Jaffe, senior attorney with Southern Environmental Law Center.

“We need to move to clean energy solutions. The fact that the proposed Surry coal-fired power plant is now on ice is a good start, but it is only the beginning if we are serious about what really needs to happen,” said Laura Miller of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards.

In Surry County, where the plant was proposed, hundreds of citizens have worked hard for several years to educate themselves and others about the potential impacts of having a mammoth coal plant in their midst. Notwithstanding ODEC’s promise of jobs and economic benefit, the citizens faced the prospect of massive amounts of air pollution in their community, a potential coal ash dump, and countless rail cars rumbling through daily.

“After three and a half years of fighting with my friends and neighbors to stop this coal plant, I am absolutely thrilled that ODEC has finally suspended its permitting process. We will be watching them closely,” said Betsy Shepard, a Surry County resident, mother and local leader in the fight to stop the plant.

The Wise Energy Coalition worked with many groups on the issue, including Chesapeake Bay Foundation, National Parks Conservation Association, and Lynnhaven River Now. A full list of the governments and organizations opposed to the coal plant is below.

• Norfolk
• The Town of Surry in Surry County
• Isle of Wight County
• Southampton County
• (Williamsburg and Virginia Beach have publicly expressed concern)

Health organizations
• CINCH (Consortium for Infant and Child Health at EVMS in Norfolk)
• American Lung Association
• Virginia Asthma Coalition
• Physicians for Social Responsibility

Conservation organizations
• Wise Energy for Virginia Coalition
• Chesapeake Bay Foundation
• National Parks Conservation Association
• Hampton Roads Bird Club
• Williamsburg Climate Action Network
• Cape Henry Audubon Society (Norfolk)
• Virginia Native Plant Society
• Lynnhaven River Now
• Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper

Citizen’s groups/political groups
• Coalition to Keep Surry Clean
• Garden Club of Virginia
• Isle of Wight Citizen’s Association
• Carrolton Civic League (In Isle of Wight)
• James City County Citizen’s Coalition

Keith Thirion
Lead Virginia Field Organizer
Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Storms Threaten Ozone Layer Over U.S.

Strong summer thunderstorms that pump water high into the upper atmosphere pose a threat to the protective ozone layer over the United States, researchers said on Thursday, drawing one of the first links between climate changeand ozone loss over populated areas.

In a study published online by the journal Science, Harvard University scientists reported that some storms send water vapor miles into the stratosphere — which is normally drier than a desert — and showed how such events could rapidly set off ozone-destroying reactions with chemicals that remain in the atmosphere from CFCs, refrigerant gases that are now banned.

The risk of ozone damage, scientists said, could increase if global warming leads to more such storms.

“It’s the union between ozone loss and climate change that is really at the heart of this,” said James G. Anderson, an atmospheric scientist and the lead author of the study.

For years, Dr. Anderson said, he and other atmospheric scientists were careful to keep the two concepts separate. “Now, they’re intimately connected,” he said.

Ozone helps shield people, animals and crops from damaging ultraviolet rays from the sun. Much of the concern about the ozone layer has focused on Antarctica, where a seasonal hole, or thinning, has been seen for two decades, and the Arctic, where a hole was observed last year. But those regions have almost no population.

A thinning of the ozone layer over the United States during summers could mean an increase in ultraviolet exposure for millions of people and a rise in the incidence of skin cancer, the researchers said.

The findings were based on sound science, Dr. Anderson and other experts said, but much more research is needed, including direct measurements in the stratosphere in areas where water vapor was present after storms.

“This problem now is of deep concern to me,” Dr. Anderson said. “I never would have suspected this.”

While there is conclusive evidence that strong warm-weather storms have sent water vapor as high as 12 miles — through a process called convective injection — and while climate scientists say one effect of global warming is an increase in the intensity and frequency of storms, it is not yet clear whether the number of such injection events will rise.

“Nobody understands why this convection can penetrate as deeply as it does,” said Dr. Anderson, who has studied the atmosphere for four decades.

Mario J. Molina, a co-recipient of a Nobel Prize for research in the 1970s that uncovered the link between CFCs and damage to the ozone layer, said the study added “one more worry to the changes that society’s making to the chemical composition of the atmosphere.” Dr. Molina, who was not involved in the work, said the concern was “significant ozone depletion at latitudes where there is a lot of population, in contrast to over the poles.”

The study, which was financed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, focused on the United States because that is where the data was collected. But the researchers pointed out that similar conditions could exist at other midlatitude regions.

Ralph J. Cicerone, an atmospheric scientist and the president of the National Academy of Sciences, who reviewed the study for Science, also called for more research. “One of the really solid parts of this paper is that they’ve taken the chemistry that we know from other atmospheric experiments and lab experiments and put that in the picture,” he said. “The thing to do is do field work now — measure moisture amounts and whether there is any impact around it.”

“The connection with future climate is the most important issue,” Dr. Cicerone said.

Large thunderstorms of the type that occur from the Rockies to the East Coast and over the Atlantic Ocean produce updrafts, as warm moist air accelerates upward and condenses, releasing more heat. In most cases, the updrafts stop at a boundary layer between the lower atmosphere and the stratosphere called the tropopause, often producing flat-topped clouds that resemble anvils. But if there is enough energy in a storm, the updraft can continue on its own momentum, punching through the tropopause and entering the stratosphere, said Kerry Emanuel, an atmospheric scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  •  When Dr. Anderson produced data about five years ago clearly showing these strong injections of water vapor, “I didn’t believe it at first,” Dr. Emanuel said. “But we’ve come to see that the evidence is pretty strong that we do get them.”

BILL MCKIBBEN writes for Rolling Stone Magazine about the new math for climate science

from Bill: “I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to read all 6,000 or so of those words, and for sharing it with your friends and family. I was told by the folks at Rolling Stone that it’s been viewed 450,000 times, which is just remarkable. (If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, here’s the place to go: “


The Dirtiest Coal Plant in Virginia

Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) – a generation co-op co- owned by 11 regional electric co-ops, including Shenandoah Valley and Rappahannock co-ops – has proposed plans to construct a 1,500- megawatt coal-fired power plant 35 miles from the Chesapeake Bay. It would spew over 110,000 pounds of toxic emissions daily. Pollutants including lead, mercury and nitrogen could devastate sensitive oyster and crab spawning grounds and undermine renewed efforts to restore the Bay.

This power plant would be the largest in the state – the equivalent of putting 2 million more cars on our roads. It would require 26-48 million gallons of water daily from the James River, and would dispense mercury, lead and other harmful pollutants into our water and air.

Economic Impacts:

The proposed power plant would cost $4-6 billion. Economic development in Hampton Roads could be stifled as a result of poor air quality and non-attainment designations. In the past decade, over 150 coal plants have been cancelled, delayed or rejected in the U.S., largely due to increased financial risks.


This plant would become the largest coal-fired power plant in Virginia, resulting in 110,000 pounds of toxic emissions and nearly 60 tons of poisonous coal ash every day. Emissions would include:

LEAD A toxic metal that causes a range

of health impacts, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. This plant would pollute 920 pounds per year.


CO2 Carbon dioxide is the leading cause of global warming. The proposed plant would emit 11.7 million tons of carbon dioxide per year – the equivalent of adding 2 million new cars to the road annually.

AIR QUALITY Particulate matter, NOx and SOx: Worsens asthma, decreases lung function, contributes to heart problems, low birth weight and premature death. Particulate matter under 2.5 microns affects children and elderly disproportionately; contributes to heart disease, premature birth, airway obstruction and SIDS.

CROP FAILURE: Pollution plants adversely affects soil and water quality. NOX and SO2 cause acid rain and smog, lowering the pH level of affected soil. Ozone created by the plant can drastically reduce crop yield, particularly in soybeans.

MERCURY Powerful nerve toxin, extremely persistent in nature. Causes brain damage, mental retardation and blindness. Distance to the Chesapeake Bay (about 35 miles) will cause more harm to the fragile region.

from coal-fired power

SOLUTIONS: Virginia has ZERO need for new power plants. A study released by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy reports that by implementing cost-effective energy efficiency programs available today, the Commonwealth would not need any new generation for the next 15 years. Investments in wind, solar, and other renewable technology show great promise in Virginia, and the state has an opportunity to become a national leader in clean energy technology.

To learn more about the harmful economic and environmental impacts of coal, visit

YOU Can Stop a Coal Plant

Whether you’re a member of an ODEC cooperative (such as the Shenandoah Valley and Rappahannock co-ops) or a non-member clean energy supporter, YOU can make the difference. Virginians across the commonwealth have been pressuring ODEC to withdraw this proposal and prioritize renewable energy and energy efficiency for years. We had a huge victory when ODEC delayed their plans for 18 to 24 months in September 2010. But the fight’s not over yet.

As recently as February and March 2012, ODEC re-applied and won approval to re-zone a proposed site for the coal plant in Dendron as necessary to build the plant there. This is AFTER previous zoning had been overruled due to a lack of legally-required notice to the public that a zoning vote would take place. In other words, they actively pursued a step moving towards building the coal plant. In addition, in April 2011, ODEC sought and won approval to test equipment in the James River, proving that they are moving forward with their plans to build a massive, dirty new power plant.

Investing in energy efficiency programs already in use by other local utilities could fulfill all of the co-op’s future energy needs and save members money compared to the $6 billion coal plant. A South Carolina co- op recently invested in energy efficiency pilot programs that could save their members $4 billion in new generation costs.

In 2009, ODEC served more than 445,000 electric consumers (meters) representing a total population of 1 million. That means the $4-6 billion plant will cost $8,989 – $13,483 per household. There are better alternatives.

A study conducted by Synapse Energy Economics, Inc. concluded that saddling co-op members with the costs of a new coal plant would be economically harmful to the Commonwealth. In contrast, the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium determined that investing in just one clean energy source – offshore wind power – would bring up to 10,000 jobs to Virginia.

Join the call for a clean energy economy and take action to stop the coal plant today!

Join us at the 2012 SVEC Annual Meeting!

It’s our one chance every year to address the Board and CEO, and urge them to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy, NOT a new coal plant.

Thursday, June 14th

JMU Convocation Center Harrisonburg

Registration and BBQ Dinner: 5pm Business Meeting: 7pm

Let us know you’ll join us to oppose the coal plant at

Not a co-op member?

The Army Corps of Engineers has the authority to approve or deny necessary permits. Visit to sign our petition urging them to keep coal out of the Bay and reject ODEC’s proposal to build this massive, dirty coal plant!



Our Mission Statement:

To create awareness of issues affecting folks in Fort Valley, the Shenandoah Valley and beyond, and to act on those issues for the common good.

If you would like to join us at a meeting, check the calendar for meeting and event dates and feel free to join us.  Questions, just leave a reply below and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.