Category Archives: Clean Energy

An early look at climate and energy bills in the 2021 session.

From Virginia Mercury. Potential Climate and Energy bills in the 2021 session. January 4, 2020.

Last year, Virginia’s general assembly passed more than 30 separate clean energy bills, putting the state on a path to zero-carbon electricity by 2050. Building on last year’s progress will be hard this winter due not only to COVID complications, but also to an exceptionally short and tightly controlled legislative session.


Below are some of the bills that are far along in the drafting process and are likely to be filed this year.

  • Building codes – Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, is expected to introduce legislation that would require the Board of Housing and Community Development to adopt the latest International Energy Efficiency Code within 12 months.
  • Right to buy– Del. Jeffrey Bourne, D-Richmond, patroned a bill that would give customers the right to go outside their utility to buy renewable energy. most Virginia customers still can’t buy solar energy unless they install it on their own property.
  • Solar for public schools and other government buildings– a bill from Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke clarifies that the VCEA and Solar Freedom legislation in Appalachian Power territory applies to non-jurisdictional customers as well as jurisdictional customers. The bill also expands a pilot program for municipal net metering that will allow a local government to use surplus electricity generated by solar panels on one building for another building also owned by the locality
  • Transportation – Del. Lamont Bagby, D-Henrico, is expected to carry a bill called the Clean Car Standard, simply requires manufacturers of electric vehicles to send some of their vehicles to Virginia dealers, so consumers can actually buy them. A bill from Del. David Reid, D-Loudoun, would have Virginia offer incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles. Another bill would require a Transit Modernization Study, which would gather information about how the public is currently being served by the existing transit system
  • Environmental justice– Del. Shelly Simonds, D-Newport News, and Keam are expected to introduce a bill that will expand last year’s Environmental Justice Act to change how the state forms and carries out environmental justice policies within agencies, and to ensure greater public involvement in the permitting process at DEQ
  • Pipelines– A bill from Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, adds specificity to the currently vague process that governs small to medium changes in pipeline routes and may impact permit conditions like erosion control measures. Currently it is unclear under what conditions DEQ must re-examine plans it has previously approved. The legislation will bring clarity and explicit direction to all parties involved.
  • Fossil Fuel moratorium– Del. Joshua Cole, D-Fredericksburg, is expected to introduce legislation expanding the Virginia Clean Economy Act’s two-year moratorium into a permanent moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure, to take effect in 2022
  • Utility Reform– We should expect to see legislation to strengthen oversite of utility companies and pare back the ability of utilities to pocket overearnings.
  • ‘Bad’ Bills– we should expect to see a few bills from Republicans attempting to roll back parts (or all) of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, or trying to block Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

To Cut Emissions to Zero, U.S. Needs to Make Big Changes in Next 10 Years

From The New York Times. New research details major infrastructure work that would need to start right away to achieve Biden’s goal of zero emissions by 2050. December 15, 2020 


Princeton Researchers used some of the most comprehensive models of America’s energy system to lay out several detailed scenarios for how the country could slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 as endorsed by President-elect Biden. The scenarios look at what combinations of technologies could zero out emissions at lowest cost, as well as assessing the staggering amount of infrastructure that would need to be built in just the next 10 years.

Reaching Net Zero Emissions in Virginia Could Increase State GDP

From Forbes Reaching Net Zero Emissions in Virginia Could Increase State GDP More Than $3.5 Billion Per Year. December 9, 2020

An ambitious policy package, going above and beyond the Virginia Clean Economy Act signed in April, would implement climate policies across the transportation, buildings, industrial, land, and agricultural sectors. It could put Virginia on a 1.5°C pathway and generate massive economic benefits: By 2050, this scenario could achieve net-zero emissions, generate more than 12,000 job-years, and increase state GDP by more than $3.5 billion per year.

Biden Picks NC DEQ Secretary, Michael Regan to lead EPA

From E&E News December 17, 2020

Biden picked the North Carolina DEQ Secretary, Michael Regan to be his EPA Administrator.
Although under Regan the NC DEQ did grant water permits to the ACP, it seems their position has evolved somewhat over time. In August 2020 the NC DEQ denied the water permits for the MVP Southgate Extension (citing the project’s speculative nature, given the uncertainties around MVP completion). At the time, Regan actually called it “an unnecessary project that poses unnecessary risks to our environment” 


Hooray for getting someone as EPA Administrator who is actually willing to take this kind of public stand against a pipeline project!

Dominion Signals Plan Shift

See media coverage of Dominion’s announced reduction of natural gas generation facilities in the Daily Progress and in the Virginia Mercury.

The following is a press release from Chesapeake Climate Action Network, April 3, 2020

Statement: Dominion’s IRP a “Snowball” In Forthcoming “Avalanche” of Companies Abandoning Gas Plans

RICHMOND, VA — On Thursday, April 2, Dominion Energy signaled a shift away from its previous intentions to build out fracked-gas infrastructure in Virginia, and pointed to the passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act (SB 851) as the impetus. The monopoly utility asked the State Corporation Commission for permission to change what it is required to model in its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). Dominion wrote in its request that “significant build-out of natural gas generation facilities is not currently viable, with the passage by the General Assembly of the Virginia Clean Economy Act of 2020 (the ‘VCEA’).” The statement continues: “The VCEA establishes the objective of 100 percent clean energy by 2045, and permits the construction of carbon-emitting generating facilities only if there is a threat to reliability or security of electric service. For these reasons, the Company believes that the aforementioned requirements related to the development of those specific resources are no longer necessary.”

Dominion’s previous IRP included 8-10 new combustion turbines and combined cycle facilities under various planning scenarios.

Harrison Wallace, Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, stated in response:

“After passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, Dominion almost immediately abandoned all its plans for new gas plants. We believe this an open declaration that what we’ve been saying all along is true: There is no future for gas.

“Dominion’s actions clearly represent the first snowball in what should soon become an avalanche of companies abandoning gas in all its forms including pipelines and generation plants. Now, Dominion should go the rest of the way and close shop on the doomed and unnecessary Atlantic Coast Pipeline boondoggle. And the other energy companies in Virginia behind the Mountain Valley Pipeline, Chickahominy gas plant, and more, should follow suit and end their new gas plans as soon as possible. Then they can join us in rebuilding Virginia with a clean energy economy instead.”

CONTACT:
Harrison Wallace, Virginia Director, 804-305-1472, harrison@chesapeakeclimate.org
Denise Robbins, Communications Director, 240-630-1889, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 17 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Trump Comments on Wind Energy in December 21 Speech

From the White House transcript of President Trump’s speech to the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in West Palm Beach on Saturday, December 21, 2019:

“We’ll have an economy based on wind. I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much. I’ve studied it better than anybody I know. It’s very expensive. They’re made in China and Germany mostly — very few made here, almost none. But they’re manufactured tremendous — if you’re into this — tremendous fumes. Gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint — fumes are spewing into the air. Right? Spewing. Whether it’s in China, Germany, it’s going into the air. It’s our air, their air, everything — right?”

For an interpretation/translation of the speech, see the December 23 Washington Post article, What Trump was talking about in his baffling rant about wind energy.