Green power has been building momentum for many years, but it still needs help from policy makers. Virginia has been a state that has long relied on one of the most notorious of fossil fuels, and lawmakers have made a bold move.
In March, Virginia state legislators approved a comprehensive bill that will make the state one of the nation’s leaders in renewable power. The state has been one of the nation’s largest sources of coal. With the passage of the Clean Economy Act, lawmakers have set their state on a path toward becoming one of the nation’s top clean energy providers.
The bill contains several ambitious goals. It creates a Renewable Portfolio Standard that will require the state’s two largest utilities, Dominion Energy Virginia and American Electric Power, to generate 100% of their electricity from either solar or onshore wind from within the state. The two utilities will have to meet the standard by 2045 and 2050, respectively.
The measure is also bullish on energy storage. It requires Dominion and American to construct or acquire 400 and 2,700 megawatts of energy storage capacity, respectively, by the year 2035.
Additionally, the bill sets a standard for energy efficiency. Starting in 2022, it requires American to achieve incremental annual energy efficiency savings of .5% and 1.25% for Dominion. Both utilities will be required to increase those savings annually.
Another provision of the bill requires state regulators to devise a carbon dioxide cap and trade program that complies with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cooperative effort among Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector.
Governor Ralph Northam has until April 11 to sign the bill.