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Gov. Northam signs Virginia Clean Energy Act

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act and is planning to have the state join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“These new clean energy laws propel Virginia to leadership among the states in fighting climate change,” Northam said. “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 Virginia Clean Economy Act institutes 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. Also, it states that energy companies must pay penalties for not meeting their targets with part of the revenue going toward job training and renewable energy programs in disadvantaged communities.

Specifically, 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. In addition, nearly all coal-fired plants must be closed by the end of 2024. It also establishes energy efficiency standards, advances offshore wind and solar, and encourages energy storage. It sets a target of 16,100 megawatts of solar and onshore wind and 3,100 megawatts of energy storage capacity.

“This is the most significant clean energy law in Virginia’s history,” State Senator Jennifer McClellan said. “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.”

Northam also amended the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act, which establishes a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade program to reduce emissions from power plants, in compliance with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). “By joining RGGI, Virginia will take part in a proven, market-based program for reducing carbon pollution in a manner that protects consumers,” Northam said. “I am proposing important refinements and I look forward to signing it into law soon.”

The Energy Storage Association hailed the passage of these bills.

“Today marks a new record for the U.S. energy storage and clean energy industries. Governor Northam signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) into law, requiring 3,100 MW of new energy storage procurements by 2035 to support the state’s transition to 100 percent clean energy,” Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO of the U.S. Energy Storage Association, said. “This is significant milestone – it is the largest target of any state in the nation.”

Dave Kovaleski

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