Virginia’s governor has signed into law targets for over 21GW of renewable generation and more than 3GW of energy storage as part of new measures which will require electricity to come from 100% renewable sources.
Governor Ralph Northam has signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act which establishes a 5.2GW offshore wind target.
It also establishes a 16.1GW target for solar and onshore wind and requires Virginia’s largest energy companies to construct or acquire more than 3.1GW of energy storage capacity.
The Clean Economy Act requires new measures to promote energy efficiency, sets a schedule for closing old fossil fuel power plants, and requires electricity to come from 100 percent renewable sources such as solar or wind.
Energy companies must pay penalties for not meeting their targets, and part of that revenue would fund job training and renewable energy programs in historically disadvantaged communities.
The law requires Dominion Energy Virginia to be 100 percent carbon-free by 2045 and Appalachian Power to be 100 percent carbon-free by 2050. It requires nearly all coal-fired plants to close by the end of 2024.
The governor has also signed into law amendments to the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act, requiring Virginia to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and establishing a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade programme.
“These new clean energy laws propel Virginia to leadership among the states in fighting climate change,” said Governor Northam. “They advance environmental justice and help create clean energy jobs. In Virginia, we are proving that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand.”
The new rules require Dominion Energy Virginia to prioritise hiring local workers from historically disadvantaged communities, to work with the state to advance apprenticeship and job training, and to include an environmental and fisheries mitigation plan.
The Clean Economy Act also expands “net metering” – monetary compensation for consumers who generate their own power – making it easier for rooftop solar to advance across Virginia.
“This is a terrific day for Virginia,” said Delegate Richard C. “Rip” Sullivan, Jr., a sponsor of the bill. “While some said Virginia is moving too fast, we said this is the year to get it right. This is an historic step forward on clean energy in Virginia.”
“This is the most significant clean energy law in Virginia’s history,” said Senator Jennifer McClellan. “The bill that the Governor signed will make Virginia the first southern state with a 100 percent clean energy standard. The Act will create thousands of clean energy jobs, make major progress on fighting climate change, and break Virginia’s reliance on fossil fuels.”