Coming back to Prince William County post-graduation, I was disappointed to find that we are the only county in Northern Virginia without a plan that addresses the climate crisis.
My studies in environmental economics and policy at Virginia Tech introduced me to the importance of environmental provisions in public policy -- provisions that provide communities with the necessary tools to adapt to the coming changes and implications of the climate crisis. When considering future policy, it is important to note that the non-renewable energy sector has seen steep losses due to the pandemic, while “clean sources for generating electricity have still managed to grow,” according to the International Energy Agency.
We took a step in the right direction in October 2018, when the previous board of supervisors unanimously voted in favor of a solar farm in Nokesville that would provide power to 3,300 homes, setting the stage for the transition to clean energy in our county.
At that time, Supervisor Lawson, whose district includes the new solar farm, called it a “win-win for everybody.” It was a tremendous step, yet we have not leveraged further initiatives to bring clean energy to our county since then. This project serves as an example of how powerful and positive a community energy master plan would be for our county, expanding clean energy opportunities such as this one to all areas of Prince William.
After the last comprehensive plan was released in 2008, steps to create an energy plan were included in the environment chapter. It wasn’t until 12 years later that Supervisor Kenny Boddye, D-Occoquan, requested an update on the steps outlined in 2008 that things began to move forward.
We cannot afford to waste any more time. Arlington, Alexandria, Loudoun and Fairfax counties are developing or have already implemented sustainability and energy plans, which we can use as a starting point instead of reinventing the wheel.
Further, organizations like Mothers Out Front have already taken time to research and advocate for better climate policy within our county, as they have heavily led the effort to get a plan into action.
This trend toward clean energy is not surprising, given that new technology puts renewables such as wind and solar at a cost advantage when compared to non-renewable energy sources such as oil and coal. Making an investment in renewable energy is a safe choice that saves tax-payer dollars and creates jobs, leading to long-term economic growth.
I believe that passing Supervisor Boddye’s resolution, which will be voted on at the supervisors’ Nov. 17 meeting, is urgently needed. The resolution states a goal of 100% renewable energy for the county by 2035.
Sign up here by 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 16, to voice support for passing the resolution at the Board of County Supervisors meeting.