Tyler Chalfant | March 24th, 2020
Earlier this month, Virginia became the first southern state to set a target for 100 percent clean energy. The Virginia Clean Economy Act requires the state’s two largest investor-owned utility companies to produce exclusively carbon-free electricity by 2050.
Utility companies will also be required to reduce overall energy demand in the next five years, increasing energy efficiency and cutting back on costs for consumers. In a further effort to protect low-income consumers, the law creates the Percent of Income Payment Program, capping the amount consumers pay for electricity based on income.
Through the state’s new renewable portfolio standard, the utility companies must also increase their energy storage capacity, build offshore wind turbines, and inform their customers on how to save money through solar power. The cap on net metering will be raised from one to six percent.
The bill also instructs state agencies to develop a carbon cap-and-trade program, and for the state to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a regional cap-and-trade program that most northeastern states have joined. Advocates for the new law say that Virginians will reap $69.7 billion in net benefits, and see up to 13,000 new jobs per year in the state.