Virginia may be the “Top State for Business,” but it is among the least sensible when it comes to responsible energy policies. So far, the McDonnell administration has paid lip-service to the advantages of renewable forms of energy. But change towards a more inclusive renewable energy “portfolio” in Virginia has been slow, and in some respects stagnant.
While most proponents of renewable energy understand that wind energy, solar energy, energy from biomass, and geothermal energy will only make up a part of Virginia’s energy future, it’s a sizable part nonetheless that cannot be ignored. Bulldogs for the McDonnell administration like Virginia Senator Steve Martin contend that the governor has made significant moves towards “greening” Virginia. It seems, however, that we have different conceptions of what a “green” Virginia will look like.
And here’s the real kicker: renewable energy has the enormous potential to save businesses in Virginia considerable revenue over the long run. Furthermore, for a billion-dollar-a year-tourism industry in Virginia, renewable sources of energy could help alleviate some of the negative environmental impacts of nonrewable sources of energy like excessive air pollution (i.e. air pollution that causes ill health effects), thus sustaining the windfall revenue stemming from tourism-related activities. Renewable sources of energy can also bring “home-grown” sources of energy to Virginia, helping to alleviate foreign energy “shocks” that could throw Virginia’s economy in the wrong direction.
Renewable energy, then, cannot and should not be put off any further if Virginia wishes to retain its position as top state for business. Virginia is an energy intensive state that cannot afford to sit and wait for the next energy shock to ransack its business success. Virginia has the education system, the capital, the people, and the political and grassroots will to turn our state into a renewable energy capital. It’s time we moved in this direction inexorably for current generations and those still to come.