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West Virginia Energy Opportunities Plan
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by Duane Nichols | 2007

The West Virginia Public Energy Authority has a draft Energy Opportunities Plan for the state, which covers conservation and efficiency but also coal to liquids and other coal-based energy

The West Virginia Public Energy Authority has prepared a draft “Energy Opportunities Plan” [EOP] for the State. It is posted on the web site http://www.energywv.org, under the WV Division of Energy. It is 25 pages long, including one table on page 25 entitled “Estimated comparative availability, energy market value and oil / gas equivalent by resource”. This table is a printed spreadsheet and very hard to read.

This WV EOP was up for public review until the end of October, then it is to be finalized by the Public Energy Authority at end of November for submission to the Governor and the Legislature. Three public hearings are involved, each 2.5 hours in duration. The August hearing was on “energy efficiency and conservation”, the September hearing was on “alternative energy sources”. Lastly, a hearing on October 25th covered “energy from coal” including “coal to liquids" (CTL).

Any interested person can submit comments on the EOP. This is done via the same web site: www.energywv.org. This Plan contains some very valuable information. It represents are good start on a state-wide energy plan for the long-term. My comments, presented on September 27th in person at the Summit Conference Center can be summarized as follows:

1. The EOP does not explicitly consider the environmental impacts of the various sources of energy for the State’s future. It is suggested that the title or sub-title and content of the EOP be modified to incorporate “environmental protection”.

2. The EOP does not explicitly consider the primary short-term issue before mankind today, namely “global climate change”. This issue needs to be incorporated into the document in some appropriate manner.

3. It is suggested that the EOP lay out a goal of 2% reduction in greenhouse gases each year for the State of West Virginia as a whole. This is a modest and very manageable goal. Then, the remainder of the EOP can have its focus on how to achieve this 2% given the various energy sources available and other considerations. In this way, an “energy portfolio” can be developed for the State.

4. It is recommended that the “stabilization wedge” approach to reducing greenhouse gases be utilized as a working tool so as to bring all the various energy forms into consideration, as a semi-quantitative method of performing “energy math”. The October issue of the National Geographic magazine contains a good presentation of this approach, along with other current information on energy supply options. [A copy of this magazine was submitted to the Public Energy Authority, since they were conducting the hearing.]

It is worthy of note that at least two cities in West Virginia are now designated as “Cool Cities” as a result of their commitment to following the national initiative started by Seattle in 2005. Shepherdstown and Morgantown are now implementing programs for energy conservation and energy efficiency improvement. President Bill Clinton has also developed a bold project involving over 45 major cities world-wide to respond to the global climate change issues. This program is described at the following Internet web-site: http://www.clintonfoundation.org/cf-pgm-cci-home.htm

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