My name is Abigail Bailey. I am a Southwest Virginian through and through. I studied journalism as an undergraduate at the beautiful Radford University and am pursuing my MA with concentrations in environmental literature and discourse. One of the things that I am most passionate about is how to connect our residents with the information and resources on how we can better our environmental relationships and pursue renewable energy options.
I remember when neighbors across the street from my childhood home installed solar panels, 19-year-old me was so excited to see something so innovative happening right there in my Wytheville neighborhood. My almost 80-year-old grandfather asked my own father what the possibility of us doing the same to our home was. It was the multigenerational excitement that showed me that renewable energy wasn’t just a “new” or “hippy” idea but is a serious conversation that we should be having within our communities and around the state.
Solar power in Virginia has seen a dramatic 1,782% increase in the last five years, with installed solar capacity growing from 17 MW in 2014 to more than 320 MW in August of 2018. This increase gives me hope that these conversations that we Virginians are having are not just staying around the table but are being acted upon. Coming from rural Virginia, I see value in solar companies and farmers creating relationships to lease land for solar farming. This would create a stable income for our farmers, helping to protect them from fluctuations in commodity prices or poor crop yields when in droughts. This would allow them to invest back into their farms that are integral parts of our communities.
Action is needed if we want to continue to fight against climate change as a state and nation, as investments in renewable energies are the only chances we have to combat the risk of a two degree Celsius temperature increase that will cause significant problems environmentally for us as humans, as well as for the living things we share our space with.