Virginia leaps ahead with South’s most progressive energy legislation

Bill headed to governor will cut carbon, increase clean power and energy efficiency

Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. (© Robert Llewellyn)

The Virginia General Assembly today passed a landmark and historic energy bill setting into motion plans to entirely transform electricity generation in the Commonwealth by eliminating carbon from power plants, retiring coal plants, and boosting clean-energy sources.  

The timeline begins in the next few years and will be largely complete in 25 years. The bill essentially requires Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power Company – the state’s two biggest power generators – to begin phasing out fossil fuels and migrate to cleaner, renewable sources.

“This is a major step forward for Virginia, a state that has been reluctant in past years to let go of dirty coal plants and embrace a more modern, clean-energy future,” says Senior Attorney Will Cleveland. “It’s not a stretch to say this is probably the most forward-thinking energy bill to come out of any southern state’s legislature in history.”

Highlights of the bill called the “Clean Economy Act” include:

  • Requiring the Department of Environmental Quality to finalize a regulation to eliminate all in-state carbon emissions from power plants by 2050
  • Mandatory retirements of nearly all coal- and oil-burning power generation from Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power Company by 2024
  • End all power generation from burning wood pellets by 2028
  • Requiring Dominion and Appalachian Power to comply with mandatory energy-efficiency standards by 2025.

The Clean Economy Act will also speed adoption of rooftop solar by making it more economical for homeowners by providing more cost savings and the increased ability to work with private companies to install panels under financial plans that can avoid up-front installation costs.

“This is a bold step forward for Virginia’s energy future that was even a few years ago unimaginable,” Cleveland said. “The ultimate winners are the state’s power customers who will benefit from lower costs. And just as important, this will go a long way to cleaning our air and water and reducing Virginia’s contribution to climate change.”

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