Washington, D.C. – March 6, 2020 – The Virginia Senate today passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act, after the House of Delegates approved the bill yesterday. Governor Ralph Northam is now clear to join leaders in the General Assembly in allowing the state’s energy system to unlock the enormous economic and environmental potential renewable energy sources can bring to the Commonwealth.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) applauds leaders in the Assembly for supporting the measure, which will drive substantial clean energy investments across Virginia. In particular, AWEA thanks Delegate Sullivan and Senator McClellan for their sponsorship of the bill, along with Senator Lucas, Senator Mason, and Delegate Hayes for their forward-thinking emphasis on transitioning Virginia toward a more prosperous, more productive, and lower-carbon energy future.“The forward-thinking and comprehensive Virginia Clean Economy Act will foster economic development across Virginia, reduce carbon emissions, and allow the Commonwealth to embrace the many advantages that clean energy technologies are already delivering to other parts of the country,” said Tom Kiernan, AWEA CEO. “This pro-business legislation means access to high-paying jobs in the Commonwealth and serves as a model for other states to follow on the path to a safer, more resilient, and more reliable energy future.”
The Virginia Clean Economy Act will create a state renewable energy portfolio system (RPS) program, similar to those already implemented in 29 other states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico. The Virginia RPS requires that 30% or more of Virginia’s electricity comes from renewable energy sources by 2030. By 2050, the Act requires that 100% of Virginia electricity will be zero-emissions – a goal Governor Northam advocated for during his election campaign.
The Act includes measures to harness wind and solar power, expand consumer ownership through rooftop solar, and reduce energy waste through mandatory efficiency standards. Notably, the legislation also includes a 5.2-gigawatt offshore wind target, one of the largest state commitments to offshore wind to date and one with the potential to power up to 1.5 million Virginia homes.
The Act also solidifies Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) cap-and-invest program, which to date has provided net benefits of over $4 billion to participating members, while helping them slash carbon emissions over 50%.