Clean Economy Act: Virginia takes historic steps toward clean energy future
Gov. Ralph Northam today celebrated Virginia’s progress on clean energy by ceremonially signing historic legislation that accelerates the Commonwealth’s transition to a carbon-free future.
The governor signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which establishes bold energy efficiency standards and provides a pathway for new investments in solar, onshore wind, offshore wind, and energy storage.
Additional legislation signed by the Governor advances shared solar and energy storage programs, and dramatically transforms the rooftop solar market.
“We are at a pivotal moment to secure an affordable, clean energy future in Virginia,” Northam said. “Together, these pieces of legislation put the Commonwealth in position to meet the urgency of the climate crisis, and lead the transition to renewable energy in a way that captures the economic, environmental, and health benefits for all Virginians. And these bills also send a strong, clear message about the broader impacts of pollution that must be considered when choosing our energy resources.”
For the first time in the Commonwealth, the Virginia Clean Economy Act establishes a mandatory renewable portfolio standard to achieve 30 percent renewable energy by 2030, a mandatory energy efficiency resource standard, and the path to a carbon-free electric grid by 2045. The bill also declares that 16,100 megawatts of solar and onshore wind, 5,200 megawatts of offshore wind, and 2,700 megawatts of energy storage are in the public interest.
This provides a pathway for clean energy resources to be constructed, while ensuring that the investments are made in a cost-effective way. The Virginia Clean Economy Act protects customers with a program that helps reduce electricity bills and brings energy efficiency savings to low-income households.
The governor also ceremonially signed legislation directing the State Corporation Commission to determine when electric utilities should retire coal-fired or natural gas-fired electric generation facilities, and how utility customers should pay for this transition.
Northam signed additional legislation to support new investments in solar energy, including the Solar Freedom bill, which will help grow the rooftop solar market in the Commonwealth. Another bill he signed establishes a shared solar program, allowing communities to receive credit for the solar energy they generate through a subscriber system.
With a minimum requirement of 30 percent low-income customers, this program will enable Virginians to reap the benefits of generating solar energy on their homes. The Governor also signed a legislation that will build an energy storage market in Virginia.
Learn more about the clean energy legislation passed during the 2020 General Assembly session here.