Tag Archives: #energy

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!

Mayor Signs Energy Efficiency Tune Up Bill making it the Law in Philadelphia

Beginning in 2021, many commercial property owners in Philadelphia will be required to conduct energy efficiency tune-ups in their buildings. The new legislation requires owners of all nonresidential buildings of 50,000 square feet or larger to either conduct a “tune-up” to bring existing building energy systems up to a state of good repair or submit a certification of high energy performance to the city’s Office of Sustainability. The Bill which was signed into law yesterday by Mayor Kenney is intended to help cut citywide carbon emissions.

Stay tuned for a Client Alert from David B. Amerikaner and me on this topic if of interest, which will be published later tonight. Best regards. -Brad A. Molotsky

Philadelphia Passes Mandatory Building Energy Efficiency Tune-Up Bill

Philadelphia’s City Council unanimously passed a bill requiring owners of non-residential commercial buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to perform regular building tune-ups to improve their energy efficiency performance.

This policy marks Philadelphia’s first mandate regarding building energy performance improvements and is intended to help meet Mayor Jim Kenney’s clean energy goals to reduce citywide carbon emissions 80% by 2050.

The Bill requires small low- or no-cost adjustments to existing building energy systems and controls that improve their energy efficiency performance. According to the Institute for Market Transformation (“IMT”), these minor tweaks on average result in 10-15% annual energy savings, more comfortable tenants, and less equipment failure issues down the road.

Philadelphia’s new law builds upon its prior 2012 mandatory energy benchmarking policy and program. The 2012 benchmarking law requires building owners to measure and publicly report their yearly energy usage using Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager (a free tool available from the EPA).

Since making a building more energy efficient requires professionals to work directly in that building, energy efficiency jobs typically lead to higher local employment, as these jobs tend to be locally-based jobs that cannot really be outsourced.

Following Seattle, Philadelphia is the 2nd city in the U.S. to enact a building tune-up policy, and are several other key big cities have taken similar action through laws such as retro-commissioning or energy audit requirements, including Atlanta, Boston, and Los Angeles.

Per IMT, a few local jurisdictions are going even further by enacting building performance standards to reduce carbon emissions and waste. The New York City and Washington, DC policies that were passed earlier in 2019 are some of the most ambitious climate actions cities have taken to date, requiring building owners to achieve a certain level of performance that is set by the cities, with sizable fines for those who do not comply.

As cities account for a high percentage of nationwide greenhouse gas emissions, cutting the energy use from their buildings will meaningfully contribute to reducing our national carbon footprint.

To date, only a few cities have actually mandated building energy performance improvements. Philadelphia, has now taken this step forward.