Ivy Main

Ivy Main

Ivy Main is a lawyer and a longtime volunteer with the Sierra Club's Virginia chapter. A former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency employee, she is currently the Sierra Club's renewable energy chairperson. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of any organization.


Solar for schools and nonprofits is under siege. Fortunately, there’s a simple fix.

By: - December 5, 2023

In 2019, Ruth Amundsen and Alden Cleanthes formed a company with a mission to bring the benefits of rooftop solar to low-income communities. Targeting development in Qualified Opportunity Zones, Norfolk Solar installed solar at the historic Wesley Union AME Zion church in Norfolk, the Southside Boys and Girls Club, a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and […]


A 5-point plan for Virginia’s data centers

By: - November 21, 2023

None of the sessions at last month’s Virginia Clean Energy Summit (VACES) in Richmond were devoted to data centers, but data centers were what everyone was talking about. Explosive growth in that energy-hungry industry has everyone — utilities, the grid operator, and the industry itself — scrambling to figure out how Virginia will provide enough […]


Houses can be built to use much less energy. Why aren’t they?

By: - October 19, 2023

Every three years, a nationwide group of building safety professionals known as the International Code Council (ICC) publishes updated model building codes that form the basis for most U.S. state and local building codes. ICC codes address essential features like structural integrity, fire safety, plumbing and energy use. As technologies improve, so do the model […]


Up for a vote in this election: clean energy, data centers and utility influence

By: - October 4, 2023

How much do Virginia’s elections matter in an off year? Measured by the turnout in past elections, you’d think the answer is “not much.” The percentage of registered voters who show up at the polls in Virginia typically drops well below 50% when no federal or statewide candidates are on the ballot.  But measured by […]


A bright spot at the intersection of farming, electric vehicles and solar energy

By: - September 19, 2023

The energy transition is in full swing across the U.S. and the world, but the changes now underway are not simple or linear. In an economy as complex and connected as ours, progress in one area will often affect other parts of the economy, creating winners and losers.  And then there are the changes that […]

Dominion Energy's downtown Richmond building. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

If Dominion’s plan is so bad, is there a better one? (Spoiler alert: yes, there is.)

By: - September 5, 2023

In my last column I took Dominion’s Integrated Resource Plan (semi-) seriously, giving the utility the benefit of the doubt in its projections for data center growth and the alleged need for more fossil fuels to keep up with the power demands of that ravenous industry. But as I also noted, Dominion doesn’t deserve to […]


Why are ratepayers footing the bill for Virginia’s data center buildout?

By: - August 16, 2023

Virginia’s embrace of the data center industry produced new fallout this spring when Dominion Energy Virginia released its latest Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). With data center growth the “key driver,” Dominion projects a massive increase in the demand for electricity. As a result, the utility claims the state-mandated transition to clean energy is now impossible […]


I’m a climate alarmist (and you should be too), but we aren’t dead yet

By: - August 3, 2023

Until this summer, climate change was a threat most Virginians could ignore most of the time. It was like being hopelessly in debt: too upsetting to think about, so you may as well ignore it. But then smoke kept drifting down from Canadian wildfires and the planet experienced its hottest days on record. People are […]


Do carbon offsets offer climate salvation?

By: - July 19, 2023

In medieval Europe, the Roman Catholic church encouraged sinners to get square with God by performing good works and acts of charity. Since both of these might require spending money, some resourceful church leaders streamlined the process, taking the money and letting the good works slide. A rich sinner could buy “indulgences” to cover adultery, […]


Joe Manchin’s Pyrrhic MVP victory

By: - June 28, 2023

This spring’s passage of federal legislation raising the debt ceiling came with one provision that clean energy advocates had fought hard against: it sweeps away several legal challenges to the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) that have stalled completion for more than four years. The pipeline is supposed to carry methane gas from the fracking fields […]


Is there a partisan divide on climate? Not among young people

By: - June 13, 2023

Judging from the political rhetoric, you’d be justified in thinking that only Democrats feel the urgency of the climate crisis, while Republicans are united in dismissing it. Polling shows Democrats are better aligned with popular sentiment: the great majority of Americans support more climate action. But Republican leaders assume that even if their position is […]


The battle for menhaden: corporate greed threatens the Chesapeake Bay

By: - May 23, 2023

You might know them as bunker or pogies. Landlubbers might not know them at all. Menhaden, a kind of herring that has been called the most important fish in the sea, are a keystone species in the Atlantic, serving both as a critical food source for predatory fish, marine mammals and birds, and as a […]