On Tuesday, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe addressed nearly 600 people at the 27th annual VMI Environment Symposium, touting renewable energy as an economic driver. The conference, hosted by the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington Virginia, attracts public officials, industry representatives and advocacy groups from across the Commonwealth.
In his keynote speech, Gov. McAuliffe made mention of his stance on Climate Change and how it differs from past Republican Administrations, who went as far as to ban the words in discussions between state agencies.
The Governor highlighted current renewable energy projects in Virginia, focusing on VA-REA member APEX Clean Energy and its development of a Botetourt County Wind Project. The 25 turbine wind project would be the first on-shore wind project of its kind in Virginia, with enough capacity to power over 20,000 homes. The Governor also noted the projected ten-fold increase in solar energy capacity throughout the Commonwealth during his 4-yr term.
While Virginia still lags behind in renewable energy compared to its neighboring states, the Commonwealth is gaining traction and developing innovative solutions to use renewable energy.
The host city for the VMI environment symposium is a good example. Lexington is host to the largest solar system on a college campus in Virginia at Washington and Lee University, and the first PPA in the Shenandoah Valley between the Lexington City Schools and VA-REA member Secure Futures. Additionally, many residents are currently participating in a Solarize campaign through Sigora Solar, taking advantage of savings resulting from bulk purchasing.
Just outside of Lexington, the BARC Electric Cooperative is constructing the Commonwealth's first community solar project. Such a program allows residents to buy into a solar energy located off-site, and be credited for the energy savings generated by the system.
Wind and solar development is proving economic viability in the Shenandoah Valley - increasing tax revenue and jobs throughout the region. Such innovative solutions should continue to be encouraged throughout Virginia, providing another economic driver for the Commonwealth.