By Sarah Lasky, Intern
The recent Resilient Virginia Conference, for which Powered by Facts participated on the Planning Committee, enjoyed attendance from a wide range of businesses of all sizes, industries, state and local government officials, utilities and communities. Hundreds gathered to learn more about energy and resiliency in all areas. The sessions Powered by Facts attended were focused on rural agricultural challenges and energy security. Here are some highlights from these sessions:
The rural and agricultural challenges sessions included a discussion between Evan Feinman, Executive Director for Tobacco Regional Revitalization Commission, Julie Shortridge, Assistant Professor for Biological Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech, and Andy Sorrell, Coordinator for Farmland Preservation. Feinman discussed the challenge of economic resiliency for the agricultural sector and said it could be combated through distributed energy throughout Virginia. Shortridge focused on climate threats in Virginia, such as drastic temperature differences, floods, drought, storms and hurricanes, and discussed methods that are currently used to reduce sensitivity to climate threats. Sorrell revealed the necessity for farmland preservation, because of the local economic benefits. Overall, the panelists focused on economic resiliency and climate management.
The second rural break out session, which focused on moving towards energy security, featured Powered by Facts’ Founder Karen Schaufeld, who discussed the necessity to make Virginia a model for the rest of the country. She also mentioned how there are three other major concerns regarding safety and reliability of energy: cyber-attacks, physical attacks and weather events. Schaufeld also talked about the importance of protecting Virginia ratepayers by divesting energy sources and how the Rubin Group is working toward changing legislation to promote renewable and distributed energy systems.
During the session, Eduardo Alcorta, Senior Business Development Leader for GE Power, discussed the need for diverse energy sources to maintain reliable energy flow, which would create energy security. Aaron Sutch, Program Director for VA SUN, explained how solar co-ops help facilitate the purchasing of solar and the need for distributed generation of solar. Dianne Corsello, Director of Business Development for Dominion Energy, also discussed the importance of diversifying energy sources, which will allow for grid security.
Overall, the panelists all agreed that to secure Virginia’s energy, we need to rely on many different energy sources, and, as it was noted by an attendee of the second break out session, it was nice to see a diverse panel of constituencies working together for the future of Virginia.