Governor seeks solar energy proposals

Gov. Terry McAuliffe released a “request for information” for the Virginia Office of Public-Private Partnerships and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to explore solar energy development on state owned property on Thursday.

The “request for information” is a call for design, construction and financing proposals from individuals, companies, educational institutions and organizations around the world that that have experience with solar energy development.

Brian Coy, the governor’s press secretary, said the call for proposals is a part of a process to bring more solar energy to the state.

“We’re in a very preliminary phase here, so we’re looking for innovative proposals to build on what we’re doing,” Coy said. “We have public lands and facilities all over the Commonwealth where we can engage in more of this activity.”

McAuliffe believes developing solar energy makes not only environmental sense, but economic sense as well, Coy said.

“The governor believes this is a real untapped place for us to engage in public-private partnerships to generate more jobs, more clean energy and make ourselves in the market,” Coy said. “A lot of our competitors in the country and the world are focusing on solar.”

Coy said using solar power on state properties and facilities could also reduce government expenditures.

“For example, the DMV here in Richmond has introduced an energy saving system on heating and cooling and it’s saving a lot of taxpayer money,” Coy said. “That’s not a solar project, but it has the same effect.”

Coy said while solar energy has the potential to go anywhere in the state, but it could especially benefit the southwestern part of the state with its declining coal industry.

“The governor has always, when it comes to jobs and energy, taken an ‘all of the above’ approach,” Coy said. “Especially in places across the Commonwealth that have been hard hit by the recession or the decline in coal, those are places where we could make up some ground with jobs and energy.”

Coy added, “No idea is off the table and the governor is willing to look at any proposal.”

The closing date for the call for proposals is March 13.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com