Group Sees Shenandoah Valley As Renewable Energy Model

By James Hong ('14), JMU Public Affairs

Screen shot of website

For more information about Valley 25x'25, visit the organization's website.

If the Shenandoah Valley can generate 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources before 2025, then the rest of the nation will have a good model for achieving the same goal, says an organization committed to reducing America's dependence on foreign energy.

“It’s an ambitious goal, but not impossible,” said Dr. Jeff Tang, associate professor of integrated science and technology and a leader of Valley 25x'25. “It will take some hard choices, it will take some active policy decisions, it will take everyone getting on board and really trying to facilitate that process.”

Valley 25x’25 is aligned with the national 25x'25 organization, which has a vision of America's farms, forests and ranches producing 25 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States by 2025.

“We saw there was a unique opportunity for the Shenandoah Valley to lead the nation in terms of showing what could be accomplished,” said Tang, who provided an overview of Valley 25x'25 during the Valley 25x'25 Fall Research Review on Oct. 10.

The national 25x’25 organization has identified the Shenandoah Valley as its second demonstration region. The first demonstration region is the San Joaquin Valley in California.

“I think [the Shenandoah Valley] makes a good model for the country because we have a balanced portfolio here," said Tang. "If we’re going to get to 25 percent renewable energy, we can’t rely upon any one kind of renewable energy resource."

While the valley lacks the wind, solar and geothermal resources other states have, Tang said the variety of resources in the region make the goal achievable. The valley's strategy also will rely heavily on energy efficiency and conservation, Tang said.

JMU will be a major player in the Valley's success, but the effort has to extend beyond the campus. “I have no question that JMU can get to 25 percent renewable energy ourselves by the year 2025 and we are a very big entity in the region," said Tang. "But us achieving it doesn’t mean the valley achieves it. I think in order for the local organization to really fly, it has to become a community-focused organization. . . . We really want to make a difference, we want to see adoption of renewable energy technology out there in the community. We want to change opinions.”

Published October 21, 2011