Virginia adopts bold clean energy law

Virginia's General Assembly in Richmond. 

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act Saturday, enacting bold legislation that will require zero-carbon generation of all energy in the state by 2050.

This landmark legislation, which SELC worked hard to develop, will speed retirement of the state’s coal-fired power plants, helping dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollution.

“This is undoubtedly the boldest climate action legislation ever to come out of the South,” said SELC Senior Attorney Will Cleveland. “SELC is proud to have worked with the administration, dedicated legislators and many climate champions to see this and complementary legislation through.”

Under the new law, nearly all of Virginia’s coal-fired power plants will be shut down by the end of 2024. It also establishes a statewide energy efficiency standard, speeds installation of rooftop solar for homeowners, and expands larger-scale solar and offshore wind projects.

“The Clean Economy Act charts the course toward a zero-carbon electricity grid, but the many pressing challenges of climate change cannot be tackled in a single legislative session,” Cleveland said. “SELC will work in future sessions to clean up remaining outdated energy policies and further address climate change and promote cleaner energy, while making sure that this transformation of our energy landscape benefits all Virginians equally.”

In addition to savings on electric bills, the act will result in cleaner air and help ensure that Virginia is doing its part to drastically reduce its contributions to climate change.

“These new clean energy laws propel Virginia to leadership among the states in fighting climate change,” said Northam. “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.”

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