Energy conference sparks debate in Roanoke

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Nick Akins made his first visit to Roanoke in over ten years, for the Energy and Infrastructure conference organized by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

The Chief Executive of American Electric Power said the company continues to reduce its carbon footprint and expand the use of renewable energy, but must rely on fossil fuels to meet the needs of its customers.

"We have to make sure there is a balanced energy portfolio that includes everything," Akins told the audience, "because every resource has its positives and negatives and we have to ensure that we're balanced from that perspective."

"Renewables certainly have their place," he told WDBJ7 in an interview following his remarks. "They continue to get much more prevalent from a resource mix perspective, but at the same time these other resources are absolutely needed to provide that continual constant benefit to our customers."

A block away, opponents of the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipeline projects provided counterpoint, calling for a rapid shift to sustainable energy sources that don't contribute to climate change.

Cynthia Munley spoke during the news conference.

"America's energy policy is transitioning, but advantages are all stacked for fossil fuels," Munley said. "We gather here today to call for a rapid energy transition. Fracked gas is no bridge fuel."

The Roanoke Sunrise Movement is holding a town hall forun on the "Green New Deal" proposal Monday night at 7 p.m. at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Roanoke.