The groups stated support for adding minimum goals for Virginia-generated wind and solar power to the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), such as those proposed by Senator A. Donald McEachin and Delegate Alfonso Lopez, and opposition to repealing the financial incentive for utilities to meet the RPS goals, as proposed by Senator Richard Saslaw and Delegate Terry Kilgore and backed by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
"While all parties agree that the RPS is not currently living up to its intended purpose, supporters of the Attorney General's legislation are skirting the real solution, which is to strengthen the law," stated Beth Kemler, Virginia State Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. "De-incentivizing renewable energy in this way sets Virginia back even further."
"The RPS in its current form has failed to bring any new wind or solar projects to Virginia," stated Nathan Jenkins, Virginia Campaign Coordinator for Appalachian Voices. "Removing the incentive without addressing that underlying problem makes it more difficult for the renewable energy industry to find its footing in Virginia."
"In his inaugural address, President Obama made a clear case for transitioning to a sustainable energy economy – it's essential if we want to strengthen our economy and preserve our environment," said Allison Fisher, Outreach Director for Public Citizen's Energy Program. "Renewable Portfolio Standards give states like Virginia a stake and a role in leading the charge on clean energy technology and contributing to the creation of new jobs and new industries. The path forward requires strengthening the RPS, not repealing it."
The release of the statement comes during a week that has seen a swell of action focused on the RPS. On Monday, a group of student activists performed a flash mob on the capitol grounds on the issue. On Tuesday, despite the release of poll results showing that Virginians favor maintaining the clean energy standard over repealing it by a 2-to-1 margin, the House Commerce and Labor Committee voted to advance HB 2261, a bill to repeal the financial incentive for utilities to meet the goals. On Wednesday, members of the General Assembly's Progressive Caucus gave the issue top billing in the release of the caucus' 2013 agenda.
The groups endorsing the statement are: 350.org, Alliance for Progressive Values, Appalachian Voices, Center for Biological Diversity, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Chesapeake Bay Group Sierra Club, Citizens Climate Lobby, Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, Dogwood Alliance, Earth Day Network, Interfaith Power & Light (MD.DC.NoVA), Herndon Environmental Network, Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Washington, Labor Network for Sustainability, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Public Citizen, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, Sustainable Loudoun, TerraScapes, Union of Concerned Scientists, Virginia Interfaith Power & Light, Voice of Vietnamese Americans, Williamsburg Climate Action Network.