While support for renewable energy sources, like solar, is widespread, many aren’t aware of its strong support across the entire political spectrum. That’s where a new Virginia organization, Conservatives for Clean Energy is stepping in.
The group formed in 2014 in North Carolina. It launched into Virginia at the beginning of the year with a statewide poll to test respondents’ views about renewable energy. “It’s one of the few issues where you see broad support from Republicans, Democrats, and independents,” said Mark Fleming, President and CEO of Conservatives for Clean Energy.
The poll found that two-thirds of Republicans surveyed support increasing the use of renewable energy while using less energy from fossil fuel sources.
“Virginia is a state that has historically had an underdeveloped market,” said Andrew Lamar, the group’s Virginia Advisor. “Virginia is a politically purple state with a lot of conservative legislators in suburban and even rural districts that are open to renewable energy when they view it as an economic development issue.”
The organization is working on several fronts to make the case to Republican legislators in Richmond that renewable energy has broad support among their constituents. The group’s efforts include grassroots and grass tops education campaigns, as well as educating individual lawmakers. In February, the group helped organize a clean energy press conference with several conservative lawmakers.
“When you take a look a it, there are a lot of reasons why conservatives would want to support clean energy development,” Lamar said citing energy choice and local job creation. “We want to make those reasons clear to conservative policymakers.”
Lamar noted that Virginia’s business community is increasingly supportive of clean energy, as evidenced by companies raising their renewable energy targets.
“There’s overwhelming support among voters and self-identified conservatives for renewable energy,” Lamar said. “And, they support taking action to grow our clean energy economy in Virginia.”