Virginia's energy plan must take a long range approach to all phases of energy consumption in the state. It must embrace developing technologies such as solar and wind power and not stay tied to older ways of producing power from fossil fuels just because of the vested interests of certain industries or politicians associated with those industries. The technology already exists to significantly increase our use of solar and wind power without disrupting the electrical grid and the time is at hand to move forward with a new energy plan.
Electrical grid improvements to allow the use of these renewable resoures will also provide better reliability in emergency situations and will facilitate the use of electric vehicles which are rapidly becoming more available and economical.
The active promotion of solar power as part of the energy plan will provide a much faster transisiton to the renewable energy future that Virginians deserve which will result in significant environmental and economic benefits. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels by promoting the use of renewable energy will improve our air quality, reduce our green house gas emissions, and help to reduce the signifiant impacts to Virginia due to climate change.
Virginia's efforts to promote solar energy need to be widely distributed. They should include utility scale projects to satisfy the growing demand by environmentally conscious companies that are already demanding renewable energy, community solar projects that allow consumers that do not have the ability to install their own solar systems the ability to pool their resources, and rooftop solar projects for individual homeowners that have good locations for solar panels on their properties.
Distributed generation in the form of community solar, and especially rooftop solar, provides many benefits. It provides many jobs in the design and installation of the systems and better resiliency for the grid as the source of the power is closer to the end user than large fossil fuel generating facilities. Battery storage technology is rapidly improving and will be a viable part of the Virginia's energy plan in the near future.
Numerous other states have adopted renewable energy requirements for the utilities that operate in their areas and Virginia needs to join this group and also provide tax incentives to individuals and small businesses similar to the current federal tax credit for solar installations. The history of renewable energy in other states has proven that the current restrictions on solar power in Virginia are unrealistic and unnecessary, designed only to protect the vested interests of the monopoly utility companies. Virginia can become a leader in the renewable energy field with better planning for our energy future based on renewable energy.
Increased emphasis on improvements to the energy efficiency of buildings and transportation systems will provide similar benefits to the envirionment of Virginia. Grants and low cost loans for energy efficiency improvements should be parts of our energy plan. Policies to promote the use of electric vehicles should be adopted.
Virginia's energy plan for the future should be based on increasing the use of renewable energy and promoting energy efficiency.