Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signs clean energy legislation

Virginia
Ralph Northam

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam gestures during a news conference at the Capitol Wednesday April 8, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Northam gave an update on his COVID-19 plans. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) — Gov. Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act and amended the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act Sunday.

The amendment to the Community Flood Preparedness Act requires Virginia to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“These new clean energy laws propel Virginia to leadership among the states in fighting climate change,” Gov. Northam said in a press release Sunday. “They advance environmental justice and help create clean energy jobs. In Virginia, we are proving that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand.”

The Act incorporates clean energy directions that the Governor issued in Executive Order Forty-Three in September 2019.

The law requires new measures to promote energy efficiency, sets a schedule for closing old fossil fuel power plants, and requires electricity to come from 100% renewable sources such as solar or wind. Energy companies must pay penalties for not meeting their targets, and part of that revenue would fund job training and renewable energy programs in historically disadvantaged communities, according to the release.

The Act accomplishes the following broad goals:

  • Establishes renewable portfolio standards. The act requires Dominion Energy Virginia to be 100 percent carbon-free by 2045 and Appalachian Power to be 100 percent carbon-free by 2050. It requires nearly all coal-fired plants to close by the end of 2024.
  • Establishes energy efficiency standards. The act declares energy efficiency pilot programs to be in the public interest.
  • Advances offshore wind. It requires Dominion Energy Virginia to prioritize hiring local workers from historically disadvantaged communities.
  • Advances solar and distributed generation.

Gov. Northam proposed technical amendments that would provide loan forgiveness for low-income geographic areas.

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