Most Virginians want clean electricity. However, there remains some difference in opinion regarding the best way to get there.
In most nearby states, energy consumers have a say in where their energy comes from. They are not just houses at the end of a power line, but active decision-makers helping to shape the energy landscape. For example, families in Maryland can decide — whether it’s based on price, service, or type (like wind or solar) — on the energy that they want for their home. Still, many simply choose to keep buying the basic power mix from the utility.
With some small changes to legislation regarding community solar, nearly 100% of the state could benefit from the savings of solar power just like their Maryland neighbors.
One of the benefits of this open energy market is the option it provides consumers to benefit from the clean energy produced in their region. For example, in Maryland, an energy consumer can subscribe to a community solar project located somewhere in their area. When that project generates power and sells it to the grid, the consumer earns credits on their power bill. This system creates the exact same financial benefits as rooftop solar, but without the costly and time-consuming installation process. Plus, it cuts down barriers to entry making solar energy more accessible across the socio-economic spectrum.
But in Virginia, only those who can afford to install their own costly, rooftop solar systems are able to reap the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of Virginians are even eligible for rooftop solar, leaving a large population of the state without any solar access at all.
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All that being said, with some small changes to legislation regarding community solar, nearly 100% of the state could benefit from the savings of solar power just like their Maryland neighbors. And, for the first time in recent history, bipartisan voices have decided that it’s time for local residents and communities to have a say in the state’s energy future. At the grassroots level, nine organizations, including Appalachian Voices and the Reason Foundation, have created the Virginia Energy Reform Coalition and are advancing policy goals to create a modern energy system.
With Dominion’s plans to build the largest offshore wind farm in the country and Facebook, Amazon, and other large technology companies powering their Virginia operations with renewable energy, the state is already headed in the right direction. Most importantly, Governor Northam issued an executive order last month that puts the state on a path to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050. But the state’s energy system is still at a tipping point, and it’s time to give individual consumers more of a voice in what their energy future will look like.
On Tuesday, November 5, Virginians will elect the representatives who will make those decisions. If you live in Virginia and want clean, affordable energy choices, make sure to read up on the clean energy initiatives in your state and exercise your right to vote come Tuesday.