Virginia enacts Clean Economy Act – Renewable Energy Standards and Carbon Free Future Achievable

On August 17, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act (the “VCE Act”), which establishes mandatory energy efficiency standards and provides a pathway for new investments in solar, onshore wind, offshore wind, and energy storage.

Additional legislation advances the shared solar and energy storage program and  transforms Virginia’s rooftop solar market.

“We are at a pivotal moment to secure an affordable, clean energy future in Virginia,” said Governor Northam. “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.”

The VCE Act establishes a mandatory renewable portfolio standard (“RPS”) to attempt to achieve a 30% renewable energy composition by 2030, a mandatory energy efficiency standard, and the path to a carbon-free electric grid by 2045.

The VCE Act 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.

The Governor also signed additional legislation that:

  1. directs 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;
  2. supports new investments in solar energy, including the Solar Freedom bill, which will help grow the rooftop solar market in Virginia;
  3. establishes a shared solar program which will allow communities to receive credit for the solar energy they generate through a subscriber system. With a minimum requirement of 30% low-income customers, this program is intended to enable Virginians to participate in the benefits of generating solar energy on their homes; and
  4. will build an energy storage market in Virginia

Duane Morris has an industry facing Energy Practice Group to help individuals and organizations plan, respond to, and address the ever changing landscape of renewables, fossil fuels, pipelines, power plants, and the transmission and generation of energy. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Patrick Morand, Sheila Hollis, Brad Thompson or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe!