More compromise needed in energy policy

Published 9:30 pm Monday, February 12, 2018

By Tim Page

Despite Virginia’s array of energy resources — including traditional energy and renewables like hydroelectric, wind, solar and geothermal — consumption here is still more than two and a half times greater than the state’s energy production.

This explains why families here continue to endure unnecessarily high energy costs. Virginians spend nearly $3,290 per person on energy annually, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). That’s a lot for the average family in Virginia.

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For those living on low or fixed incomes, the burden is more crushing. They spend at least 27 percent of their take-home pay on energy. In some extreme cases, it’s more than 50 percent.

They’re also reliant on government programs like the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and are often forced to choose between purchasing groceries, medication or paying the heating bill.

They deserve better.

We can help by paying better attention to how much they are unnecessarily paying.

Energy affects everyone. We use gas to drive the kids to school, natural gas to cook and heat our homes and electricity to watch movies, charge our phones and adjust the thermostat. The more energy we have, the lower prices will be. It’s simple supply and demand.

That’s why we need a more responsible and balanced strategy for must-haves like offshore energy development — including wind — and the expansion of other energy infrastructure.

And thanks to record advancements and improvements in technology, regulation and technique, production can be done safer than ever.

Take pipelines, statistically proven to be the most environmentally-friendly way to move energy. They show that energy solutions, which blend innovation with modern technologies, complement environment stewardship.

Unfortunately, loud but small groups of anti-development activists are trying to convince these cash-strapped households that we must stop the production and delivery of affordable energy

But simply saying “no” isn’t a solution. In fact, such a drastic step would not only increase local costs; it’d promote moving resources via less-secure methods, upping the probabilities of a worst-case scenario and increasing the cost of energy.

By better understanding how sensible energy policies are critical to all Virginians — from Richmond to Virginia Beach — and why our elected leaders should better embrace policies that reflect these needs, economically and environmentally, we can help communities struggling to make ends meet.

Consumer Energy Alliance, via its initiative the “Campaign for America’s Energy,” is doing just that — in a non-partisan, open way — to create a meaningful dialogue with families, businesses and lawmakers about the ways energy, innovation and environmental protection go together and bring down costs.

But we need more support to find common-ground ways to create greater energy security, infrastructure and cutting-edge innovations that’ll protect the environment and offer a better energy future for all Virginians.

Tim Page is the Southeast Director for Consumer Energy Alliance.