Virginia legislature passes major renewable energy policy bill

February 18, 2020

The Virginia House and Senate approved legislation that changes the way the state’s utilities generate electricity.

The Clean Economy Act sets out a plan to get Virginia to 100% renewable energy generation within the next 25 to 30 years by blocking new fossil fuel generation facilities, expanding solar and offshore wind generation, setting energy efficiency standards for power plants and other measures.

Differences in the House and Senate bills will have to be worked out before they reach Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk to be made law.

Legislators said the bill is the product of hundreds of hours of negotiations between the state, public advocacy groups and private utilities.

Utility companies around the world have begun transitioning away from coal, but are adopting another fossil fuel, natural gas.

Natural gas burns cleaner than coal, but still emits massive amounts of carbon dioxide. The Energy Information Administration projects 2050 carbon dioxide emissions will only be 4% below 2019 levels, even with the switch to natural gas.

Here in Indiana, state legislators are bucking worldwide economic trends to save the state’s coal industry.

The Indiana House of Representatives approved a bill that would slow down the rate at which coal-fired power plants are retired. House Bill 1414 would require that utilities seek permission of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to retire or refit coal-fired power plants.

The bill is currently in the hands of the state senate for consideration.

Virginia legislature passes major renewable energy policy bill