Virginia Power Company Prudently Rejects Renewable Mandate Resolution
Religion & Liberty Online

Virginia Power Company Prudently Rejects Renewable Mandate Resolution

One of the greatest benefits of living in the United States is our access to plentiful, affordable domestic energy. These benefits extend to the nation’s poor who enjoy an unprecedented wealth of heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, plentiful light in the evening hours and electronic devices that power up at the press of a button.

Driving up costs for energy forces a concomitant rise in costs to consumers in every strata of society. Such has been the case of renewable mandates enacted throughout the country. One of the reasons behind such cost increases is that current renewable technologies such as solar and wind simply can’t provide enough energy to satisfy rising demand.

But for Rev. William Somplatsky-Jarman, a Presbyterian minister affiliated with the Interfaith Council of Corporate Responsibility, the increasingly dubious threat of catastrophic climate change trumps cheap energy for our nation’s poor. Somplastky-Jarman, you see, is one of those religious leaders who submits proxy shareholder resolutions to reduce greenhouse emissions.

In the Reverend’s case, his resolution was aimed at Dominion Resources Inc., “Virginia’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases,” according to Bloomberg Business Week. Somplastky-Jarman was joined by 20 likeminded activists who proposed at last month’s shareholder meeting that Dominion issue a report on anticipated financial fallout from climate change. The resolution failed, but not before 25 percent of shareholders voted for it.

According to Bloomberg:

[I]t was by far the highest number of “yes” votes ever cast for a climate resolution to Dominion. It was a surprising result, the activists say, because the company has been particularly resistant to climate and renewable energy policies.

Dominion, one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy, ranked 187 on the 2012 Fortune 500. The vote represented about $7.6 billion worth of the company’s shares.

The vote “sent a real message that you’re getting beyond just the die-hard environmentalists,” said Seth Heald, a lawyer and a member of the activist network. “You’re getting to real investors who are seriously concerned for business reasons about the risk [of climate change].”…

The momentum in Virginia is part of a wave of Wall Street activism that has seen shareholder groups and individuals use resolutions to call on utilities and other companies to disclose the risks they could face from extreme weather and carbon regulations. The newest are “carbon bubble” resolutions, which ask fossil fuel companies to reveal how much of their assets would be left “stranded” in the ground if the nation enacts sweeping climate policy.

Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed – this time.

Renewable mandates in Spain have economically crippled the nation. From Hot Air:

Not only has the Spanish government been directly paying out the nose for the development and operation of its politically preferred forms of green energy, but the most pricey wind and solar sources have been driving up electricity costs for Spanish consumers — neither of which Spain can afford, with their financially crippling budget deficit and their 26 percent unemployment rate.

In the long run, all of these ‘favors’ and subsidies and payouts to the so-called renewable energies that politicians have so magnanimously determined will be ‘the way of the future’ are actually a major disservice to these very same technologies. Engineering the market from the top down and trotting out these projects before they are actually ready, and continuing to throw them bones as they repeatedly fail to pass the test of competition, is no way to encourage the price efficiency that could actually earn them a place in the mainstream energy market.

The end result of Spain’s years of meddling isn’t a gloriously redesigned and ‘cleaner’ energy scheme, but thousands of people taking dire losses on their investments and the opportunity cost of countless resources and dollars that could have been more productively spent elsewhere.

But certainly things are different in the United States. Or are they? According to Somplatsky-Jarman’s resolution: “Twenty-nine states have renewable portfolio standards or goals and over 35% of new power generation capacity in the past five years has come from renewable generating resources.”

Marita Noon, executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE) writes:

Six states introduced bills for a full repeal of the mandates: Texas, Minnesota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Kansas. While none passed, Kansas and North Carolina’s bills had strong support.

Eleven states—Montana, Ohio, Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland, Maine, Missouri, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington—had bills aimed at reforming the mandates—several of which would have qualified hydroelectricity as “renewable energy.” Montana passed a bill to include the expansion of existing hydroelectricity as a part of eligible renewable resources. Virginia repealed incentives for electric utilities to pursue renewable energy investments. Vermont passed a zoning bill that would make it more difficult to site a wind farm.

Ten states—Arkansas, Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia—had bills to expand the current mandates. Two have passed: Minnesota and Colorado. The Colorado bill increases the mandate for rural electric cooperatives. The Minnesota bill establishes a 1.5% solar energy mandate, to be met by 2020 for investor-owned utilities. Electricity co-ops and municipal utilities are exempt. Nevada’s legislative session ends on June 3. A bill, SB123, that would force the use of more renewable electricity is still being debated. The Las Vegas Review Journal’s Editorial Board called SB123 “a tax hike on everyone” and says it “is a feel-good political initiative, not an economic one.”…

Noon interviews a resident who lives near a wind farm who tells her she finds the turbines ugly and noisy, respectively obstructing a previous mountain view and keeping her awake at night. Perhaps most alarming, however, are her electric bills, which “run as high as $7-800 a month.”

Despite such recent  evidence showing no recognizable rise in the Earth’s temperature for more than 15 years, Somplatsky-Jarman and other activists from Ceres and the Sierra Club persist with their manmade global warming claims. But, of course, this alliance heightens suspicions Somplatsky-Jarman is acting more from leftist ideology than sound theology and science. And, if he and his posse eventually succeed, it’s the poor who’ll suffer the most.

Bruce Edward Walker

has more than 30 years’ writing and editing experience in a variety of publishing areas, including reference books, newspapers, magazines, media relations and corporate speeches. Much of this material involved research on water rights, land use, alternative-technology vehicles and other environmental issues, but Walker has also written extensively on nonscientific subjects, having produced six titles in Wiley Publishing’s CliffsNotes series, including study guides for "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest." He has also authored more than 100 critical biographies of authors and musicians for Gale Research's Contemporary Literary Criticism and Contemporary Musicians reference-book series. He was managing editor of The Heartland Institute's InfoTech & Telecom News from 2010-2012. Prior to that, he was manager of communications for the Mackinac Center's Property Rights Network. He also served from 2006-2011 as editor of Michigan Science, a quarterly Mackinac Center publication. Walker has served as an adjunct professor of literature and academic writing at University of Detroit Mercy. For the past five years, he has authored a weekly column for the mid-Michigan Morning Sun newspaper. Walker holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University. He is the father of two daughters and currently lives in Flint, Mich., with his wife Katherine.