Driessen Fellow Submits Comments to the Virginia State Corporation Commission

Liberty University Driessen Fellow Julia Heath recently provided written testimony to the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) imploring the agency abandon its pursuit of so-called renewable energy and instead support the construction of additional natural gas plants.

Julia, writing about Dominion Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), stated that the company would need to build gas powered electrical production facilities as a backup for peak and low production periods.  She also endorsed the company’s position to build more fossil fuel plants and wrote out a poignant essay demonstrating the flaws with the alternative methods. She pointed out the harm solar and wind cause to wildlife, their lack of reliability, and how much more land is required to operate it than natural gas powered generators. 

When asked what drove her to to submit public comment, Julia wrote back stating, “I think it is important to speak out about issues of environmental concern regarding energy policy such as this because often only one side of the environmental argument is presented to the general public. By speaking out about different solutions for energy efficiency and environmental issues, it allows better solutions to be adopted. Sources of energy like coal and natural gas are often painted in a bad light, but most people do not realize that they are much more efficient and effective than many renewable alternatives. By understanding how different energy sources function comparatively, we are able to become better stewards of the environment and resources that God has provided us with.“

You can read Julia’s comments below:

My name is Julia Heath, and I am a student at Liberty University. I am concerned about
the proposed increase in construction and usage of offshore wind energy and solar
energy. Contrary to the purposes of these forms of renewable energy, they pose
significant threats to the environment and are financially and practically inefficient.

First, offshore wind energy poses significant threats to the environment, more
specifically, creatures like the North Atlantic Right Whale. Offshore wind turbines are
disruptive to the migratory patterns of these animals and require frequent repairs since
their efficiency in generating power starts to deteriorate when they are placed in the
water. This increases the threat to marine life because of the heightened opportunity for
whale-to-boat collisions on top of the issue of underwater noise pollution at levels
exceeding that which is safe for these animals. In the pursuit of being environmentally
friendly, however well-intentioned, these projects are quite the opposite. Solar energy is
the same in this respect because to create solar farms one must tear down an environment to create space for these solar panels. Even after they are constructed, they are still less effective than other energy sources, like gas-powered plants, with respect to the amount of land they require to generate energy. For example, if a nuclear plant equals one unit of land that is needed to produce one unit of electricity output, a natural gas-powered plant needs roughly 0.8 units of land in order to create one unit of output. Comparatively, a solar facility needs close to 100 units of land to produce the same amount of electricity.

To further the point about repairing offshore wind turbines, significant financial
challenges arise as well. The construction and financing of these turbines have become
more and more unrealistic as new issues have arisen. In comparison to wind projects
that are onshore, these offshore wind projects take longer to build, require more
financing and borrowing of funds due to the high cost, and require more routine
maintenance. Additionally, these turbines are very expensive to replace, which
ratepayers front the cost of. There is also a growing number of lawsuits arising from
ocean-front communities relative to the construction of these wind turbines, which adds the expense of litigation to the bill. These components considered together show just
how inefficient the construction and usage of these offshore wind projects really are.
Therefore, a better alternative that I support is the expansion of the amount of electricity
produced from gas-powered plants.