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.


What we can expect on the environment from a Biden administration

By: - November 12, 2020

Immediately following the 2016 election of Donald Trump, I wrote a column titled “Why Trump won’t stop the clean energy revolution.” If you were to read it now, you would yawn. What seemed bold back then now feels like forecasting the inevitable. Of course coal has not come back. Of course wind and solar are […]


The SCC’s vanishing trick: turning shared solar into no solar

By: - October 30, 2020

With Virginia fully committed to the clean energy transition, you would think that by now, residents would be able to check a box on their utility bill to buy solar energy, or at least be able to call up a third-party solar provider to sell them electricity from solar. Not so. Sure, if you’re fortunate […]

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

Is a new pumped hydro project needed for energy transition, or one more Dominion boondoggle?  

By: - October 7, 2020

Back in 2017, two Republican legislators from Southwest Virginia helped Dominion Energy Virginia secure legislation allowing the utility to charge ratepayers for a new pumped hydro storage facility to be built in the coalfields region. The law even deemed the project “in the public interest.” Three years later, Dominion included a new pumped hydro project […]


The high cost of propping up coal’s corpse

By: - September 24, 2020

Last winter, during the fight to pass the Virginia Clean Economy Act, Dominion Energy lobbyists went out of their way to save the company’s youngest coal plant in Wise County. It worked. Legislators exempted the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center from closure until 2045, when Dominion has to shutter all its fossil fuel generation.  VCHEC […]

Astronaut Rickey Arnold sees Hurricane Florence from the ISS. Credit: NASA

More hurricanes are coming. Will we be ready?

By: - August 24, 2020

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says this year’s hurricane season could set a record for the number of storms big enough to be given names. NOAA now predicts a total of 19 to 25 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater) in the Atlantic, of which 7 to 11 are likely to become […]


This is no time for Virginia to keep outdated building efficiency standards

By: - June 23, 2020

You remember the story of the Three Little Pigs. First the little pigs built themselves a house out of straw, but the big, bad wolf huffed and puffed and blew it down. Barely escaping with their lives, the little pigs built a new house out of sticks, but again the big, bad wolf blew it […]

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

What part of ‘zero’ doesn’t Dominion understand? 

By: - May 14, 2020

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Dominion Energy Virginia filed its 2020 Integrated Resource Plan on May 1. Instead of charting the electric utility’s pathway to zero carbon emissions, it announced its intent to hang on to all its gas plants, and even add to the number. In doing so, it […]


At the cusp of historic energy investments in Virginia, COVID-19 handed us a lemon. Let’s make lemonade.

By: - April 30, 2020

In mid-March, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation to transition our economy from fossil fuels to clean energy over the coming years. Two weeks later, Virginia shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the businesses whose very existence is now in peril are the energy efficiency companies and solar installers we will be […]


With a framework for Virginia’s energy transition in place, here’s what happens next

By: - March 31, 2020

With Democrats in charge, Virginia passed a suite of bills that establish a sturdy framework for a transition to renewable energy in the electric sector. At the center of this transformation are the Clean Economy Act, HB1526/SB851, and the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act, HB981/SB1027. Other new laws direct further planning, make it […]


New laws clear away barriers to small solar projects

By: - March 18, 2020

Virginia General Assembly members have an expression for when opposing interests agree on a bill: they call it “peace in the valley.”  The phrase comes from a gospel song by Thomas A. Dorsey, written for Mahalia Jackson and then later sung by a bunch of white guys including Red Foley and Elvis Presley. The lyrics, […]


The Wise County coal plant should never have been built. Why fight to keep it open?

By: - March 5, 2020

The Virginia Clean Economy Act continues to bump along towards the finish line, losing pieces of itself but picking up new and different features as it makes its tortuous way. Most recently, and disconcertingly, Republicans representing southwest Virginia persuaded the Senate to remove a key provision requiring the closure of the Virginia City coal plant […]


Yeah, I’m not perfect either. Pass the Clean Economy Act.

By: - February 24, 2020

When it was first introduced, and before the utilities and special interests got their grubby little paws on it, the Clean Economy Act was an ambitious and far-reaching overhaul of Virginia energy policy that turned a little timid when it came to particulars.  Sausage-making ensued.  The bill that emerged from the grinder inevitably allows Dominion […]