By Zero Carbon Virginia: Harrison Crecraft, Leslie Emery, Scott Emery, Nathan Soules, Suhas Subramanyam, Sarah Svoboda, Karel Svoboda
Not long ago, a group of us came together in a living room in Loudoun County to discuss our concerns about climate change and what we could possibly do to make a difference.
At the time, Dominion Energy had announced its intention to construct eight new power plants throughout the Commonwealth, which would lock Virginians into more than 35 years of paying for fossil-fueled utilities. Meanwhile, given recent reports that we might not have 20 years to correct course, we knew we needed to focus on the future and work towards building environmental policy that created security for our fellow citizens and our climate.
We decided to form Zero Carbon Virginia, an organization of concerned citizens devoted to bringing Virginia’s energy industry into the 21st century. We moved forward by learning the legislative process, gathering input from all stakeholders, and joining forces with Del. David Reid (D-Ashburn) and Del. Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax).
The result of this collaboration is The Renewables First Act (HB 1686). The bill places a moratorium on all new fossil fuel capacity construction until renewable energy generation facilities with a capacity of at least 5,500 megawatts are in operation. This threshold is considered “in the public interest” by the Grid Transformation and Security Act and is also well within our reach in the near future.
With the bill drafted, our work has just begun. But we need your help. Your can show your support for the bill here, and you can contact your Senator and Delegate to ask them to support the bill. This one page handout about the bill can help guide your discussion with your legislators.
The status quo makes no sense from an environmental and public health standpoint, and the Renewables First Act is just one of many steps in a long journey. But this process has made us realize that even ordinary citizens can help steer our state and country in the right direction.