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Gov. Northam Executive Order Sets 100% Carbon-Free Goal by 2050. That’s Nice, But We Need a LOT More, Including by the Legislature.

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See below for Gov. Northam’s statement on his executive order “to expand access to renewable energy, support clean energy jobs of the future.” A few thoughts:

  • It’s great to see the governor talking about 100% clean energy, but… we really need legislation – an aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard, a price on carbon pollution, etc.
  • Second, we definitely can’t reach 100% clean energy if we lock in the fossil fuel consumption (and methane emissions, albeit in West Virginia) stemming from two, gigantic, fracked-gas pipelines (the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline) for decades to come. Those pipelines need to be *canceled*, using whatever powers Virginia has under the Clean Water Act, etc.
  • Third, while a 100% goal by 2050, that’s way too far in the future to deal with the climate crisis we’re currently dealing with. What we need are a LOT more aggressive intermediary goals than 30% by 2030; for instance, how about more like 40% by 2030, 50% by 2035, 75% by 2040, 90% by 2045, etc.? That means kicking Dominion’s butt on offshore wind, energy efficiency (“decoupling” anyone?), and utility-scale solar, while also ramping up distributed solar big time (how about some serious tax and other incentives, while removing artificial obstacles, on that front?) and moving aggressively towards replacing internal combustion engines with electric vehicles.
  • And, of course, to accomplish what we need, we’re going to have to rein in the power of corrupt and corrupting Dominion Energy. That means major ethics and campaign finance reform legislation, hopefully after Democrats take control of the legislature on November 5.

P.S. Note that, given massive/ongoing declines in the cost of clean energy, we can now move away from fossil fuels with no economic harm, and if anything economic GAIN.

Governor Northam Signs Executive Order to Expand Access to Renewable Energy, Support Clean Energy Jobs of the Future

~ Commonwealth sets goal to produce 100 percent of electricity from carbon-free sources by 2050 ~

RICHMOND—Governor Northam has signed Executive Order Forty-Three, which establishes ambitious statewide goals and targets for clean energy deployment and expands upon the Commonwealth’s commitments to reduce our environmental impact, mitigate the impacts of climate change, and boost the clean energy economy in Virginia. Governor Northam made the announcement today at the Virginia Clean Energy Summit in Richmond.

The Executive Order lays out Virginia’s objectives for statewide energy production, which includes the goal that by 2030, 30 percent of Virginia’s electric system will be powered by renewable energy resources and by 2050, 100 percent of Virginia’s electricity will be produced from carbon-free sources such as wind, solar and nuclear. The path forward includes ensuring at least 3,000 megawatts of solar and onshore wind are under development by 2022, and that up to 2,500 megawatts of offshore wind are fully developed on an accelerated timeline by 2026.

“Since I took office, our administration has been focused on establishing a strong and bold vision for Virginia as we work to modernize our electric grid and reduce barriers to the development of clean energy resources,” said Governor Northam. “We know the importance of a true shift to reliance on renewable energy sources in reducing our carbon footprint, growing our economy, and creating the clean energy jobs of the future. This Executive Order will help ensure that Virginia remains at the forefront of clean energy innovation, meets the urgency of the challenges brought on by climate change, and captures the economic, environmental, and health benefits of this energy growth in an equitable way that benefits all Virginians.”

The Executive Order establishes lead-by-example targets for increasing energy efficiency and sets forth a goal of procuring at least 30 percent of the electricity consumed by the Commonwealth’s agencies and executive branch institutions from renewable resources by 2022.

“Virginia is already feeling the impacts of global warming in the form of rising sea levels, increased flooding, and more extreme weather events,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “The public health, public safety, and economic consequences of climate change are undeniable, and this Executive Order is a necessary piece of our strategy to reduce carbon pollution and related emissions and improve quality of life for all Virginians.”

This Executive Order directs the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, the Secretary of Natural Resources, and the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, to develop a plan of action to meet these renewable energy goals. The plan will also address issues related to energy storage, energy efficiency, equity, and environmental justice.

“These energy goals send a clear signal to renewable energy industries that the Commonwealth is open for business, and that we will be a trailblazer in the development solar and wind energy,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball.

The Chief Workforce Advisor and the Secretary of Commerce and Trade will work with stakeholders to develop an energy workforce plan that supports the growing needs of the energy efficiency and renewable energy sector and creates career pathways for the communities that need them the most by aligning current curriculum and training programs with job opportunities.

The full text of Executive Order Forty-Three can be found here.