Category Archives: Events

Ivy Main and Rick Cornelius Speak at Public Meeting

The September 30, 2018, Friends of Nelson public meeting featured two excellent speakers, Ivy Main (Sierra Club and Power for the People) and Rick Cornelius (environmental lawyer).

Photo by Kathy Versluys

Ivy gave us an update on Virginia’s energy future and the effort to move toward renewable energy that would decrease the need for fossil fuels, including the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, which most economic studies show are not needed to meet either current or future energy needs. See her PowerPoint presentation here. She also discussed how to remove barriers to customer solar by supporting 8 reforms to open the market, create jobs, and save money:

Virginia law contains numerous restrictions on the ability of local governments, residents and businesses to install solar facilities for their own use. Legislation is required to remove barriers and create a stronger market for distributed solar.

The 2018 “grid mod” legislation supported utility solar, but did not address the barriers that hold back private investment in the distributed solar market.

Local governments and residents are coming together around legislation in 2019 that will support customer solar.

The “Easy 8” reforms include:

  • Lifting the 1% cap on the total amount of solar that can be net metered in a utility territory
  • Making third-party financing using power purchase agreements (PPAs) legal statewide for all customer classes
  • Allowing local government entities to install solar facilities of up to 5 MW on government-owned property and use the electricity for schools or other government-owned buildings located on nearby property, even if not contiguous
  • Allowing all customers to attribute output from a single solar array to multiple meters on the same or adjacent property of the same customer
  • Allowing the owner of a multi-family residential building to install a solar facility on the building or surrounding property and sell the electricity to tenants
  • Removing the restriction on customers installing a net-metered solar facility larger than required to meet their previous 12 months’ demand
  • Raising the size cap for net metered non-residential solar facilities from 1 MW to 2 MW
  • Removing standby charges on residential facilities sized between 10-20 kW

Enacting these reforms will give local governments more opportunities to install solar on government property as well as help residents and businesses invest in solar. This can create savings for taxpayers, decrease the need for fossil fuels, help meet local sustainability goals, and support local jobs and economic development.


Rick reviewed the salient points of a number of current cases before the Fourth

Photo by Kathy Versluys

Circuit Court of Appeals, including:

  • the challenge to the December 13, 2017, decision by the Virginia State Water Control Board to grant a water quality certificate for the ACP (pursuant to requirements of Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act)
  • the challenge to the decisions of the U.S. Forest Service to amend the Forest Plans of the Monongahela National Forest and the George Washington National Forest and to accordingly issue a Special Use Permit for the ACP to cross the two forests
  • the challenge brought by landowners in Virginia and West Virginia to both the “quick-take” authority federal regulators granted to Mountain valley Pipeline and a lower court ruling saying MVP could go forward even though property owners have not been compensated
  • SELC’s recent challenge to the new permits issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service re: the “incidental take” of endangered species and the crossing of the Blue Ridge Parkway, respectively
  • the challenge in West Virginia brought on July 3, 2018, by Appalachian Mountain Advocates for the West Virginia Rivers Coalition and others regarding the time frame for crossing the Greenbrier River not following the stipulations of section 404 of the Clean Water Act re: discharges of sedimentation into waterways at stream crossings
  • the challenge recently filed by Appalachian Voices arguing that FERC didn’t adequately adhere to stipulations in the Natural Gas Act (including addressing the need for the project)

News coverage of the meeting and of the unveiling of The Defenders sculpture earlier in the afternoon:

Hands Across the Appalachian Trail


Saturday, September 22 -10:30 am to 12:30 pm, Blue Ridge Parkway, Humpback Rocks Visitor Center, Milepost 5.8.

Join hands to protect our land, water, air, communities, and natural treasures from the threats posed by unnecessary, unwanted, and unnatural fracked gas pipelines at our Third annual Hands Across the Appalachian Trail!

The dedicated work of hundreds of volunteers, community groups and allies, and dedicated individuals has led to Stop Work Orders and further delays of the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines. These pipelines propose to cross several nationally known and highly popular public recreational areas including the George Washington National Forest, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Eastern Trail, and the iconic Appalachian Trail.

Hands Across the Appalachian Trail is our community response to protect valued natural parks and environment. This event will be an opportunity for people to come together and celebrate our treasured natural resources, celebrate victories won by the hard work of dedicated volunteers and legal advocates, and continue building fellowship and momentum around the continued effort to stand against unnatural gas fossil fuel projects and fight for a safe, sustainable future that all can enjoy!

Now in its third year this event features the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s vision to “connect the human spirit with nature – preserving the delicate majesty of the Trail as a haven for all to enjoy.” Everyone should have the opportunity for that experience. Come enjoy food, music, and celebrate our natural resources.

This Hands Across the Appalachian Trail event will take place at the Humpback Rocks Visitors Center in Nelson County. Events will also be held at the Route 100 Trail Head intersection with the A.T. in Giles Countyand at the Bears Den Lodge in Loudon County.

For more information, directions, or answers to any questions, contact Kirk Bowers, Sierra Club Pipelines Campaign Coordinator, at kirk.bowers@sierraclub.org.

Directions: Take Interstate 64 to Exit 99 at the top of Afton Mountain. Follow signs on Route 250 to Blue Ridge Parkway. Turn right onto Blue Ridge Parkway. Travel 5.8 miles to Humpback Rocks Visitor Center and Picnic Area.

Friends of Nelson Public Meeting – September 30


The Friends of Nelson public meeting, originally scheduled for September 16, 2018, will be held September 30, happily with the same two dynamic guest speakers!  Join us from 6:30 to 9 pm at Rockfish Valley Community Center to hear our speakers, with time for questions and answers.

Guest Speakers:

Rick Cornelius – Rick has been practicing environmental law for over 45 years, and has worked with Friends of Nelson and the Southern Environmental Law Center on the pipeline issues since he first heard about them 4 years ago. Rick will give us overviews and updates on key cases before the courts.

Ivy Main – Ivy works with the Sierra Club and is a columnist with Power to the People. She’ll give a brief overview of the Virginia Energy Plan and updates on Virginia’s energy future, and give suggestions about actions we can take to push toward a carbon-free electric energy system for Virginia.

Large Turnout for Air Quality Hearing

Over 150 people attended the September 11, 2018, hearing conducted in Buckingham by the Virginia State Air Control Board (SACB) to receive comments on the proposed compressor station for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). More than 60 people spoke out against Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline compressor station in Union Hill by challenging the draft air permit.

You may view videos of the hearing on either Facebook or YouTube.

You can still speak up! The public comment period for the air permit has been EXTENDED until September 21See here for information and links to help you make your comments.

Show up! Stand with Union Hill this Sunday, September 16 (to be held as scheduled) and each month at the Circle of Protection

News coverage of the hearing may be read in Augusta Free Press, Blue Virginia, and the Virginia Mercury.

POSTPONED – September 16 Events


Both the unveiling of the Defenders sculpture, scheduled for 1:30-3:00 at Rockfish Valley Foundation, and the Friends of Nelson public meeting, scheduled for 6=9 pm at Rockfish Valley Community Center, have been postponed because of potential bad weather.

Once we have finalized dates with our speakers and our venue, we will send out information on a new date for the public meeting. Our dynamic guest speakers Rick Cornelius and Ivy Main will be at the new meeting, once the new date is figured out!

Stay safe and we’ll see you soon!

NOTE:  The monthly Circle of Protection  at Union Hill will be held 1:30-3:30 as originally scheduled.