Editor: The May 7 ransomeware attack on Colonial Pipeline reveals challenges not only to the U.S. cyber defenses, but also to the vulnerability of our energy system. A centralized system for delivering fossil fuels, generating electricity, and for distributing electricity is not secure. This ransomeware attack reveals just one of many potential weaknesses.
A distributed energy system, on the other hand, is much more secure. Rooftop solar panels on homes and business plus battery storage is a more reliable and secure way to power our homes and businesses. Electric vehicles will eliminate long lines at gas stations. The technology exists. Prices are coming down. Electrification must be supported. The Clean Cars Act adopted in the last session of the Virginia General Assembly goes a long way towards electrifying transportation and qualifying Virginia for federal funding programs. Already, as part of the Volkswagon Settlement, there are funding opportunities in Virginia to electrify school buses and government fleets and install public charging stations.
On May 10, Gov. Ralph Northam announced more than $9.4 million in Clean Air Communities Program awards to fund five government fleet electrification projects. While Loudoun was not in the first round of awards, the second-round webinar for potential applicants is starting on May 17, 2021. Details are on the Department of Environmental Quality website: deq.virginia.gov/get-involved/topics-of-interest/volkswagen-settlement-agreement. The second round includes school bus electrification grants.
Loudoun must take advantage of these opportunities to build a cleaner and more resilient community prepared for a changing climate.
Natalie Pien, Leesburg