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Gov. Northam’s 2018 Virginia Energy Plan Generally Focuses on the Right Areas, but Is Far Too Weak, Timid. Also, Ditch the Fracked-Gas Pipelines!


The following is from Gov. Ralph Northam’s office. The plan itself is available here. From what I’ve seen, many of the items – energy efficiency (the cheapest, cleanest form of energy we’ve got), utility-scale and distributed solar, onshore and offshore wind, energy storage, electric vehicles and advanced transportation, grid modernization, etc. – are exactly the things we should be focused on. So that’s the good news. So what’s the bad news? You knew that was coming, right? LOL But yeah, there’s bad news, including:

  • Far too much reliance on the wildly inadequate, timid laws that have passed the Republican-controlled, Dominion-dominated Virginia General Assembly;
  • Goals that are not nearly ambitious enough in basically every area, such as…
  • Far too little investment in energy efficiency, which offers by far the most “bang for the buck” and “lowest-hanging fruit” of any energy source;
  • Far too slow a timetable on offshore wind development, especially compared to other states on the Atlantic Coast;
  • Not nearly dramatic enough changes to the Virginia regulatory environment, including really opening things up to competition in the power sector;
  • Far too timid recommendations on community solar and distributed power in general;
  • Far too timid goals/measures regarding PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) and clean energy financing mechanisms in general;
  • Too timid/slow on vehicle electrification;
  • Very weak recommendations regarding energy storage;
  • Completely inadequate/too timid/too slow on reducing Virginia’s greenhouse gas emissions, which should entail a massive ramp-up of everything listed above, plus of course cancellation of the two new fracked-gas pipelines, which are the greenhouse gas equivalent of 45 new coal-fired power plants (!)

Governor Ralph Northam Unveils 2018 Virginia Energy Plan

~ Plan focuses on increasing investments in solar, wind, energy efficiency, energy storage, and electric vehicles ~

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today released the 2018 Virginia Energy Plan, which provides a strategic vision for the Commonwealth’s energy policy over the next 10 years. With a focus on modernizing the electric grid and promoting innovative technologies, the plan sets goals for renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles.

“The clean energy sector has the power to create new business opportunities, expand customer access to renewable energy, and spark the high-demand jobs of the 21st century,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia can shift to a more modern electric grid that is reliable, affordable, resilient, and environmentally responsible—and the Commonwealth can lead this critical industry as a result. This plan sets an ambitious path forward for Virginia, and I am confident we will charge ahead towards progress over the course of my administration.”

The plan builds upon implementation of the Grid Transformation and Security Act (Senate Bill 966), which Governor Northam signed into law earlier this year. Among other recommendations, the plan calls for a comprehensive grid modernization planning process to facilitate the implementation of Senate Bill 966. The plan also calls for 3,000 megawatts (MW) of solar and onshore wind to be deployed by 2022, 2,000 MW of offshore wind to be deployed by 2028, and for Virginia’s utilities to collectively invest $115 million per year in energy efficiency programs.

“Virginia has significant potential to create new jobs as the energy sector grows and evolves,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “This Energy Plan will help guide the Commonwealth to expand and diversify our energy resources while building upon the economic development potential of the industry.”

The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) is charged with developing and submitting the Virginia Energy Plan to the Governor’s Office, the State Corporation Commission, and the General Assembly under § 67-201 of the Code of Virginia.

“DMME made a diligent effort to ensure every stakeholder and citizen had a say in Virginia’s energy future,” said DMME Director John Warren. “We heard from hundreds of individuals on policy recommendations to increase access to solar and wind, energy efficiency, energy storage, and electric vehicles.”

Additional recommendations include expanding Virginia’s existing solar and wind programs, developing new solar purchase options for corporate customers and small businesses, increasing energy efficiency financing opportunities, establishing electric vehicle targets, and working with stakeholders to evaluate energy storage options. The plan also recommends setting lead-by-example targets for Virginia’s state agencies, including a 16 percent renewable procurement target and a 20 percent energy efficiency target.

The full plan can be found here.

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