Since the passage of the Virginia Energy Plan in 2007, Virginia has taken a leadership role nationally to achieve energy independence. Virginia’s Energy Plan calls for energy conservation, greater use of renewable energy and a 20 percent increase in Virginia’s indigenous energy production given that we import more energy than any other state except California. The Virginia General Assembly has also called for a goal of 15 percent or more of Virginia’s electricity generation to come from renewable energy resources by 2025.

There is no one magic solution to solve our energy dependence issues, but now is the time to move forward our brightest prospects. Achieving Virginia’s renewable energy goal will require the development of a variety of renewable energy sources and a commitment from Virginians to join the effort.

Wind energy is an important element in the implementation of the Virginia Energy Plan and to putting our state and nation on a path to energy independence and a cleaner environment.

Roanoke County citizens have the opportunity to play a significant role in the success of this effort with the proposed Poor Mountain wind project.

Let’s be clear. Wind energy is not a passing fad. Wind energy is a proven renewable energy source that has been in use in the United States for more than 120 years and is widely and safely used across the globe as a sustainable, zero-emission energy source.

The Poor Mountain site offers the opportunity to harness homegrown energy from one of the windiest spots in the commonwealth on a site that has already been developed

Electrical transmission exists at the site, overcoming one of the most significant hurdles in the development of wind energy — the cost and environmental impact of connecting transmission lines to a wind farm. The project would tap into existing lines that have been there for decades. There is perhaps no more ideal location for this type of renewable energy project in Virginia.

Obviously, it is our job to advocate for renewable energy and it is up to the residents and leaders of Roanoke County to decide if this project is right for them. As they consider this project over the coming months, we encourage them to take a larger view of the positive benefits this project can have not only for the community, but also for Virginia. Roanoke County has the opportunity to take a leadership role in Virginia and to say, “Let energy independence start with us.”

Ken Hutcheson

Mr. Hutcheson is president of the Virginia Alternative & Renewable Energy Association, an organization formed in 2008 to promote the development, commercialization and use of renewable energy in the commonwealth.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and are not on behalf of Troutman Sanders, LLP.