Allan Tweddle, business entrepreneur, environmental activist, faced off with pro-coal energy representatives and academicians at the Coal Energy Industry Forum held at West Virginia University on October 15, 2008. His opening remarks demonstrate clearly his skepticism that his audience will be receptive to his findings or concerns. While he sits on the West Virginia Governor’s Public Energy Authority, he is critical of mountain top removal and its environmental degradation of the state.
Tweddle, who calls himself a “Recovering Republican”, points out that West Virginia will not be able to compete with other energy producers unless a switch to sustainable practices is made. The expense of silicone has dropped far enough that solar voltaics has become an energy solution within reach, making it more feasible to profitably build solar powered plants. In the meantime, coal-powered plants are becoming increasingly more expensive to build and the resource of coal is finite. He shares how successfully other countries have adopted conversion enticements to its citizens; and cites that even South Africa, with one of the most polluting coal-burning power plant, is in the process of shifting its energy policy.
Jesse Johnson, Mountain Party candidate for Governor along with supporters attended the forum as well and offered a standing ovation to Tweddle after his presentation. In a state where coal is King, it will take many strong activists to switch this light bulb.