- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 12, 2009

RICHMOND | Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, outlined his plan Wednesday to bring thousands of new jobs to Virginia with incentives to create renewable energy from the wind, the sun and even chicken manure.

Looking to match a jobs-and-energy plan that primary rival Brian J. Moran outlined weeks ago, Mr. McAuliffe said he would force utilities to produce one-fourth of their power from renewable sources by 2025. Mr. Moran’s energy plan requires the same 25 percent renewable-power threshold.

Mr. McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, is running in the primary against Mr. Moran, a former state House member, and state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, Bath Democrat. The primary is June 9; the general election is in November.

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In his first stop to promote his plan, Mr. McAuliffe, 52, advocated tax breaks for installing clean-energy technology, such as solar panels. “We don’t offer the tax incentives that other states offer to bring clean-tech businesses in,” he told about 50 people in Richmond.

Mr. McAuliffe, a confidant of Bill and Hillary Clinton and fundraiser for their presidential bids, said he supports natural-gas exploration and anchoring wind turbines at least 50 miles off the Virginia shore. However, he does not support oil drilling, which he said could hurt tourism.

He also proposed to expedite the permit process and to use state grants as rebates for equipment needed to make energy from farm manure. The devices convert the waste into methane gas, which is burned to power electrical generators. “I love chicken waste,” he said.

He also proposes direct government funding for programs to better insulate homes, for home-energy audits.

His energy platform has much in common with Mr. Moran’s, which calls for wind farms off the coast and in southwestern Virginia. However, Mr. Moran opposes coastal drilling for either gas or oil.

Mr. Deeds, who was busy in the 2009 General Assembly session until about 11 days ago, has yet to issue a white paper on energy.

Mr. McAuliffe dodged questions about whether he opposes a proposed $6 billion coal-fired power plant in Surry County.

Mr. McAuliffe said utility companies, particularly the dominant Dominion Power, don’t like his proposal to compel them to generate at least 25 percent of their power from clean, renewable sources within 16 years.

He said he has refused campaign contributions from the politically muscular Richmond-based corporation and won’t accept them as long as it opposes his mandatory 25 percent threshold. However, he accepted three donations worth nearly $7,000 from current or retired Dominion executives in December. Campaign spokeswoman Delacey Skinner said Mr. McAuliffe was referring to donations from the corporation or its political action committee.

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