Bacon Bits: Mostly Good News for a Change

Energy efficiency done right. After investing $2 million over three years to update the energy and water infrastructure of Clark Hall, the University of Virginia calculates that it is saving $75o,ooo a year in electricity bills and $22,000 in water bills — a payback in less than three years. The university replaced 5,000 interior and exterior fixtures with LEDs, put into place an electronically controlled HVAC system, and installed low-flow toilets and faucet aerators, among other changes. Since 2010, Office of Sustainability projects have avoided $35 million in energy fees, reports the Cavalier Daily. Building automation kills two birds with one stone: It dampens runaway higher-ed costs, and it reduces energy consumption.

Wytheville as winner. The Brookings Institution has highlighted Wytheville, population 8,000, as a successful example of community development in a rural town. Step one: Invest in downtown place-making through streetscape renovations, improved sidewalks, lighting, and crosswalks. Step two: Create a self-sustaining entrepreneurial ecosystem. With a grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Urban Development, Downtown Wytheville launched a competition to recruit local businesses and build partnerships with property owners. Inducements such as reduced rent, mentorships, and $75,000 in prize money were used to recruit the businesses downtown. As a result Wytheville has two (not one, but two) breweries, a Vietnamese bakery, and an art school id didn’t have before. In 2018, downtown received $800,000 in public investment and $5.7 in private investment.

Taming solar farms. The debate over solar farms rages unabated. Citizens for Responsible Solar, a Culpeper-based citizens group, is urging Madison County officials to restrict utility-scale solar plants to land zoned industrial. A proposal would require developers to submit a feasibility study detailing a solar farm’s impact on tax revenues, local construction dollars, permanent jobs, and costs in roads and other infrastructure. A viewshed analysis would examine the impact on neighboring landowners. The amendment also would compel developers to submit a plan for decommissioning the solar panels. The Star-Exponent has the story here. Could this proposal represent a reasonable compromise that will expedite the deployment of solar in Virginia or will it kill renewable energy?

Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. Uber and Lyft concede in a new study that their ride-hailing services contribute to traffic congestion in Washington, D.C., reports the Washington Post. The two firms in 2018 accounted for about 7% of all “vehicle miles traveled in the District, including time drivers spend circling waiting for fares or driving to pick them up. Their share for the entire Washington metro was 2%. The companies have come under attack for contributing to traffic congestion and siphoning siphoned passengers from the Metro transit system, thus adding to its financial woes. No one appears to have found a way yet to measure the value of added convenience to riders.

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3 responses to “Bacon Bits: Mostly Good News for a Change

  1. And the things that UVA is doing is not costing them a penny in increased electric bills from Dominion – yet they and others will pay for the GA-approved “riders” than Dominion can charge for “conservation”.

    On Wytheville – we need to point out that these “investments” are money taken from taxpayers, that if we believe it – have “opportunity costs” than if they were not taxed and left in the hands of folks spending money in the private sector economy.

    for Solar, it SHOULD have rules but should they be any more than we require for any other business? Would we, for instance, apply the same standards to a natural gas power plant or a pipeline or a hog farm or any other business that has impacts and pros and cons? We need to have a fair and balanced process for any/all businesses and for that matter ANY proposed land use but we cannot allow that process to be co-opted by opponents of a particular use.

    The same opponents of solar seem to have no problem with other land uses – such as spreading human sewage on a farm field or clear-cutting a tract of land or a farm with 500 hogs or 10,000 poultry, or for that matter thousands of acres of land strip-mined to provide coal for their electricity. As long as it happens far away from them – it’s fine.

  2. Energy efficiency done right. – triple check the facts, these folks otherwise cannot be trusted, ever.

    Wytheville as winner. Great news, study it, refine it endlessly, build on it continuously there and elsewhere, make it part of an ongoing bible.

    Taming solar farms. Sounds sensible. And surely it is needed. Solar farms are too easily blights and nuisances on the land otherwise, despite Bacon’s Rebellions highly deceptive banner.

    As usual, never trust the Washington Post. Uber and Lyft are essential in today’s world of congested places.

  3. No question, energy waste in buildings and homes is low hanging fruit, and at that scale the payback is all the incentive companies and large institutions need. If you build it right at the start, that’s the easiest, but even the retrofits can pay back the cost in a few years. You just need to get people to look beyond the next four quarters :).

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