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“Renewables On the Rise 2020” Report Shows Virginia Lagged Far Behind Under Republicans, Now Is Moving Forward Due to “Bold Action” by Democrats

The Virginia Clean Economy Act "will bring renewable energy to Virginia unlike ever before"

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Unfortunately, the situation Democrats inherited from Republicans when they took charge of the Virginia General Assembly in January 2018 was subpar or even completely unacceptable in many ways. Fortunately, in not even two years, Democrats have made massive changes and passed hundreds of pieces of legislation – in pretty much every area – which are already making things better for Virginians.

That includes moving the state towards more energy efficiency and clean energy, something that is absolutely essential for both economic and environmental reasons, yet something that Virginia Republicans and their corporate polluter allies (e.g., Dominion Energy) blocked for many years. The result of the Republicans’ foot dragging and obstruction, as the following press release from Environment Virginia explains, is that “Virginia ranks 45th in the nation for wind and solar generation as percentage of electricity consumption and 29th in energy efficiency improvements since 2010, lagging behind the nation.” Which is utterly pathetic and unacceptable, of course. Fortunately, the good news – again, as the press release states – is that “this year state legislators took bold action to put Virginia on the right path by committing to 100% clean energy by 2045 by passing the Virginia Clean Economy Act[which] will bring renewable energy to Virginia unlike ever before with aggressive targets to build out solar and offshore wind.” Of course, almost every Republican opposed this legislation as well, because that’s what Republicans do after all. And, of course, we still have a lot of work to build on the Virginia Clean Economy Act – which, after all, was simply a *start* after all these years of Virginia *sucking* on energy and environmental issues, thanks to Republicans, Dominion Energy, etc. Still…yet again, elections matter, and electing Democrats means we start making progress for a change. So let’s keep doing that, including this November 3rd!

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New report shows Virginia lags behind in renewable energy development, despite nationwide growth

Richmond, Va – Virginia ranks 45th in the nation for wind and solar generation as percentage of electricity consumption and 29th in energy efficiency improvements since 2010, lagging behind the nation in a new report released today by Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center. The project, Renewables on the Rise 2020, documents and compares the growth of five key clean energy technologies in each state over the past decade: solar power, wind power, battery storage, energy efficiency and electric vehicles. While Virginia has seen energy consumption grow by 5%, nationwide there has been a 3% decrease in per capita energy consumption (efficiency). 

“There’s no getting around that Virginia had fallen behind over the last decade when it came to transitioning to a cleaner, healthier future powered by renewable energy,” said Elly Boehmer, State Director with Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center. “But, the gains we’ve seen from coast to coast and ambitious policies right here in Virginia should give Virginians the confidence and blueprint we need to pick up the pace and catch up with our neighbors.” 

While the state has lagged behind over the last decade, this year state legislators took bold action to put Virginia on the right path by committing to 100% clean energy by 2045 by passing the Virginia Clean Economy Act. The Virginia Clean Economy Act will bring renewable energy to Virginia unlike ever before with aggressive targets to build out solar and offshore wind. 

“Virginia has fallen behind its neighbors like North Carolina when it comes to renewable energy but we have recently led when it comes to renewable energy policy. We have work to do in increasing energy efficiency, battery storage and getting more EVs on the road but there is no doubt renewables are on the rise in Virginia and the next decade is sure to be cleaner than the last,” said Boehmer.

In addition to offering a state-by-state assessment of the growth of key clean energy technologies, the study also shows the rapid gains achieved overall nationally. In 2019, the U.S. produced 30 times more solar power and more than triple the amount of wind energy than it did in 2010. In addition to the growth in renewable energy, utility scale battery storage increased 20-fold since 2010, energy consumption per person declined thanks to improvements in energy efficiency, and more than one million electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. 

“This project offers a timely reminder that we have an immense, largely untapped opportunity when it comes to clean energy here in Virginia,” Boehmer said. “We have seen some progress toward the clean, renewable energy future we need already, but we need to lean in and commit to moving faster in the decade ahead to make that future a reality.”

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Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. For more information, visit www.environmentvirginiacenter.org