Solar best tool for Virginia Clean Power Compliance Plan
Representatives from local clean energy businesses Secure Futures and Sigora Solar joined Harrisonburg City Councilman Kai Degner and other renewable energy advocates at the regional DEQ office on Wednesday, prior to the first scheduled public listening session on the Clean Power Plan, to discuss the benefits of increasing Virginia’s solar energy output in order to comply with its carbon reduction goal.
“With investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, Virginia can move towards compliance with this rule, while spurring job growth, attracting and retaining businesses, and protecting our local economies,” saidMatt Ruscio, Program and Policy Officer for Secure Futures, LLC.
“Our company has grown very quickly in the past few years, but not as quickly as solar companies in states with ambitious clean energy initiatives,” saidJeff Nicholson, Commercial Sales Consultant with Sigora Solar. “The Clean Power Plan, implemented wisely, is the best opportunity we’ve ever seen for increased solar job creation and economic activity in Virginia.”
Harrisonburg City Councilman Kai Degnersaid: “I am very excited because solar is making our communities more resilient, saving people money and creating local jobs. State policy is critical in making sure that homeowners and families can take advantage of the opportunities provided by solar. Virginia’s Clean Power Plan should prioritize expanding these opportunities.”
To date, private sector investment in solar energy largely bypasses Virginia due to existing policy barriers and a lack of state incentives in favor of neighboring states. In 2014, North Carolina and Maryland experienced over combined $850 million private investment in solar energy in their states, whereas Virginia experienced less than $15 million. But there is hope that Virginia’s plans to comply with the EPA Clean Power Plan will unlock new opportunities to expand access to solar power, and all the benefits that come with it.
“Business must be part of any transition to a more sustainable future, and the path to renewable and clean energy will require strong and collaborative efforts between public and private interests,” saidDr. James M. Leaman, Director of the MBA and OLS programs at Eastern Mennonite University. “With the Clean Power Plan, government agencies and utilities can boost progress in the business sector by lowering barriers to solar investments and creating a regulatory environment that supports renewable energy.”
Joy Loving of Rockingham County, who has been closely involved with three solar co-ops in and around Harrisonburg, said: “I believe strongly that every Virginia consumer should have the right to choose the energy source that provides their electricity. Solar co-ops are a great way to provide that opportunity. Virginia’s public officials and its utilities need to remove obstacles and facilitate that choice.”