2017 has been an electrifying year for Virginia’s renewable energy economy. Given that solar now employs more people than coal in the Commonwealth and there are plans on the books for more than 2,700 MW of large scale solar, Virginia is in the midst of a solar gold rush. But, Virginia still lags behind its neighboring states in total solar and wind development, renewable energy jobs, and investment in a booming industry.
VA-REA set out to discern the barriers and opportunities faced by Virginia’s renewable energy economy throughout three Leadership in Energy Advancement and Development (LEAD) conferences in 2017.
Directly impacting more than 175 attendees, each LEAD event served as a platform to advance VA-REA’s mission to research and support best industry practices, serve as an authority and resource through public education, and foster coordination and partnerships through networking opportunities.
LEAD #1 – Addressing Virginia’s Energy Gap with Renewables
On February 28, 2017, VA-REA hosted its first LEAD series forum of 2017 in partnership with Roanoke College, in Salem, Virginia.
Focusing on how to fill Virginia’s projected electric utility capacity gap* with renewable
energy, the half-day event featured two interactive panel presentations with renewable energy industry experts from around the Commonwealth, keynote remarks from Virginia State Senator John Edwards, and networking opportunities with renewable energy stakeholders.
*Based on published 2016 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) reports from Dominion and Appalachian Power Company, respectively.
LEAD #2 – Assessing New Business Models for Renewable Energy
On April 5, 2017, VA-REA hosted its second LEAD series forum of 2017 in partnership with the University of Richmond, in Richmond, Virginia.
The half-day event considered the pros and cons of innovative financing mechanisms for renewable energy development in Virginia and featured a tour of the 205kW solar array at the University of Richmond.
LEAD #3 – Advancing Renewable Energy in Higher Education
On September 12, 2017, VA-REA hosted its third LEAD series forum of 2017 in partnership with Christopher Newport University, in Newport News, Virginia.
The one-day event considered the barriers and opportunities for renewable energy development at colleges and universities in Virginia. Featuring education, business, and government leaders from across the Commonwealth, the event drew students, faculty, and staff from eight colleges and universities to learn and network with leaders in the field. Keynote speaker Michael Dowd, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Director of Air Quality and Renewable Energy Divisions, discussed the barriers and opportunities for renewable energy development in Virginia through the lens of carbon regulation.
VA-REA is in the midst of planning our 2018 LEAD series topics. Stay tuned for programming updates and how you can get involved with us!