The Prince William Conservation Alliance supports Virginia’s transition to electricity generation via renewable resources, including the use of electricity generated from renewable sources in the transportation sector.
In particular, we encourage the state to focus on building distributed solar generating capacity, not just construction of industrial-scale solar-fired power plants, to create a more-sustainable grid over the next 20 years. All public facilities, including rooftops and parking lots of public schools, should be assessed for their potential to host solar panels. It is preferable to install solar panels in already-developed areas, rather than dedicating large areas of undeveloped land to energy generation. Public policy should discourage the clearing of forested land in the Chesapeake Bay watershed for installation of industrial-scale solar facilities.
Virginia, like most other states, subsidizes fossil fuel use through several tax and incentive policies; these policies should be phased out. Moreover, the markets for fuels and electricity do not currently reflect the reduced health and environmental costs associated with using renewables rather than fossil fuels. To level the playing field, Virginia should adopt policies to more aggressively scale up the generation of electricity from renewable resources, and establish a leadership position in use of clean energy that will attract new businesses.
Similarly, Virginia should adopt much more aggressive policies and programs to promote energy efficiency and demand side management. We currently rank 29th in the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s state scorecard. We could save our citizens many millions of dollars annually, and improve air quality, health, and the environment just by moving from a laggard position to more of a leadership position (e.g., within the top 10 states).
State agencies should incentivize a transition over the next 20 years so that cars/trucks rely upon electricity rather than fossil fuels. Building a network of recharging stations is an essential first step.
State agencies should develop policies and regulations that facilitate and ensure recycling of solar panels when they reach the end of their useful life.
Local jurisdictions should retain authority for zoning where wind and solar facilities are acceptable land uses.