The Virginia State Senate passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) this week, a bill that puts Commonwealth on a historic path for 100 percent clean energy by 2050, by a narrow 21-19 vote. It is expected that Gov. Northam will sign the bill as he set the goal originally for Virginia to produce 100% of its electricity from clean sources by 2050.
“The Virginia Clean Economy Act will move Virginia from the back of the pack to become a leader in the clean energy economy,” said Senator Jennifer McClellan. “Today, Virginia took a major step forward towards a 100% clean energy standard that will grow thousands of jobs, keep power costs low, and protect our communities from the damaging impacts of climate change. We must act now to grow clean energy jobs and protect the future for our children.”
A broad coalition of environmental groups, clean energy organizations, social justice, and businesses support the VCEA that was first introduced Dec. 19 by Senator Jennifer McClellan, Del. Rip Sullivan, Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, and Del. Alfonso Lopez.
The Virginia House of Delegates passed companion bill HB 1526 as well, meeting Virginia’s Feb. 11 “crossover day,” the deadline for bill action in both chambers.
What will it do?
The Virginia Clean Economy Act accomplishes those goals by taking four critical steps. First, it uses investments in energy efficiency to lower people’s power bills and reduce overall energy demand. Second, it enacts a Renewable Portfolio Standard that requires all power produced in Virginia be carbon-free by 2050, creating jobs and making power cheaper. Third, it commits Virginia to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and eliminates all utility pollution throughout Virginia by 2050. Finally, the bill ensures the clean energy economy benefits all Virginians by reducing barriers to rooftop solar, allowing for community solar projects so renters and lower-income families can take advantage of solar power, and by directing the majority of energy efficiency investments to low-income communities.
“On behalf of our member companies and the 100,000 clean energy workers across the Commonwealth, we congratulate Virginia Senators for passing this landmark legislation,” said Harry Godfrey, Executive Director, Virginia Advanced Energy Economy. “We look forward to working with Senate and House leaders, along with all stakeholders, to finalize the legislative work so we can move on to transform Virginia into a leading state for clean energy, while saving customers money and putting tens of thousands more people to work in this vibrant sector.”
— Solar Builder magazine