In the 2023 edition of the Virginia Clean Energy Survey, Youngkin earns broad support from Virginians as governor as well as a 2024 presidential candidate. Youngkin's all-of-the-above energy strategy outlined in the 2022 Energy Plan also received high marks with a majority of Virginians supporting the development of solar and wind energy sources. Energy Right commissioned this survey in partnership with Conservatives for Clean Energy-Virginia and will utilize this data to inform our education efforts across the Commonwealth.
Energy Right's CEO and co-founder, Skyler Zunk, said, "The results of our survey prove that there is strong and growing support for clean energy from Virginians of all backgrounds and ideologies. I was also encouraged to see Virginians supporting solar energy even more when it’s developed with high standards—more support is garnered when solar projects pledge to fully decommission, pay their share in local taxes, and provide supplemental income to landowners. These are win-wins for rural Virginia!"
Jacob Carasella, Energy Right's Director of Community Outreach, summarized the survey saying, "These data were eyeopening for me and I know they will surprise folks across the commonwealth. Folks support personal property rights and already see solar projects as good neighbors. We are redoubling our efforts to tell this story, educating local stakeholders and pursuing the best local energy policies possible."
Blake Cox, COO of Energy Right added, "Virginian’s are telling us they want more market based clean energy here in the Commonwealth. Governor Youngkin’s Energy Plan Virginia to 'reject the mindset that it is "either/or," and embrace the reality that it is both/and.'" This is resonating with voters, and Energy Right will continue to take this message to every corner of the Commonwealth."
1) Virginians support MORE emphasis placed on Solar and Wind energy development.
Solar and wind energies were the only forms of energy to garner a majority's support for more development in the Commonwealth. Solar energy received 56% support for more emphasis and Wind received 53%. Other forms of energy scored lower: Coal (24%), Natural Gas (45%), Hydrogen (44%), Nuclear (42%). These results clearly demonstrate that a true, balanced, all-of-the-above energy strategy resonates best with Virginians.
2) Virginians are nearly unanimous in their support landowner rights.
Fully 94% of respondents agree that "Landowners should be allowed to build solar projects because they have the right to decide how to use their land, and clean energy benefits everyone." Property Rights are integral to the fabric of America and underpin our capitalist economy. Landowners can grow crops, raise cattle, or timber trees on their land without government say-so. Solar projects, when developed responsibly and respectfully, should be no different. Virginians both understand property rights and agree they should be upheld--even in the case of solar development.
3) Governor Youngkin is +13% on Approval and is the strongest candidate versus Biden 2024 in Virginia.
Governor Youngkin's approval rating in Virginia remains consistently high and far outpaces Biden's approval rating (40% approve/51% disapprove) just two years after Biden took office after winning Virginia by a 10% margin. When compared to 2024 presidential contenders, Youngkin is the only GOP candidate who beats Biden in Virginia (43%-41%). DeSantis ties Biden at 43% and Trump looses by 4 points (45%-41%). Glenn Youngkin's star continues to rise in Virginia as others fall.
4) Virginians support solar development because solar projects make for good neighbors and they generate tax revenue for the community.
Many forms of development, including solar, receive the "not in my backyard" treatment at the local level when decisions made. However, when compared to other possible land uses, solar is an overwhelmingly popular neighbor. When deciding the preferred use of a neighbor's 100 acres, solar projects came out on top with 57% of Virginians preferring a solar project be installed. Only 7% preferred the neighboring lands be converted into an industrial park, 13% preferred a Natural Gas power plant, and 23% preferred a housing development. These trends held across age and ideology signaling that many agree that solar is a silent, clean, and often invisible land use that can coexist peacefully in most communities.
Solar projects also pay significant taxes to localities to help fund emergency services and schools. Recognizing that solar projects contribute to the local tax base, 61% of Virginians said they would be more likely to support a solar project.
Download the full results here: