Last Thursday, the WV chapter of the National Association for Advancement of Colored People held an event in Charleston to advocate for real energy transformation in WV. The NAACP highlighted a report published for the organization in February 2014 titled “Just Energy Policies: Reducing Pollution and Creating Jobs in West Virginia.”
It doesn’t take much looking in WV to see the disproportionate impact that pollution has on African Americans in WV. In the Kanawha Valley, most African American communities lie in low areas directly downwind of particulate matter and mercury plumes from AEP’s John Amos coal burner. Mountaintop removal mining in southern WV has destroyed countless rural African American communities and has left those who remain with significant health and social problems.
The Jefferson County NAACP stood up for all FirstEnergy customers in WV when it took a leading role in finding a solution to the customer billing chaos that resulted from the FirstEnergy buyout of Allegheny Energy. Now the state chapter is moving beyond billing to creating a new electrical system in our state.
The NAACP report focused on the vast potential of local renewable power and energy efficiency investment to create jobs in local communities. The report focuses on the need for significant expansion of projects in African American communities across the state, along with mandates for the training and hiring of local workers.
The report cites three main problems in WV:
- Lack of a mandatory renewable power portfolio standard in WV instead of former Gov. Manchin’s fake standard
- Lack of mandatory energy efficiency standard in WV
- The need to expand WV’s net metering program to larger renewable power systems so that businesses as well as residential customers could participate
Readers of The Power Line will note that these are exactly the issues I have highlighted here over the past eight years in my posts about solar carve out legislation, bills to create an energy efficiency standard in WV and the need to change net metering maximums and business billing to allow business participation.
One additional note about the NAACP report – Instead of moving forward, the WV Legislature has decided to move backward. The solar energy tax credit described on page 16 of the report no longer exists. The Legislature allowed the tax credit to expire last year.