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Virginia’s 100 Percent by 2045 Clean Energy Plan

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by Morris Meyer, Virginia Clean Energy The state of Washington is transitioning to 100% clean energy by 2045. Idaho is transitioning to 100% clean...

Can a State Senate Race Impact Climate Change? In Virginia’s 35th...

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By Kindler “Think globally, act locally” very much applies to today’s climate crisis. I and others are busy doing just that in Virginia’s 35th Senate...

Sorry (Not Sorry), Virginia Politicians: You Can’t Support New Fracked-Gas Pipelines...

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Among the many other "joys" (most definitely in air quotes) of covering Virginia politics is listening to hypocritical elected officials and candidates talk about...

Video: VA GOP’s Disgraceful Dishonesty, Deception, Disinformation Epitomized by Debate Over...

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See below for video, and following that my comments, on the Virginia House Republicans' disgraceful dishonest, deception and disinformation that they demonstrated yesterday over...

Video: Fairfax County Students Speak at Board Meeting to Bring Solar...

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Check out the following press release (and video) from the Virginia Sierra Club. Great work - students should do this everywhere, and school systems...

Choosing Tom …

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by Adam Siegel Virginia Democrats face a real choice in the primary as to who will be the Democratic nominee for (and next) Governor of...

Why Trump won’t stop the clean energy revolution

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by Ivy Main, cross posted from Power for the People VA A protest in Manhattan against the presidency of Donald Trump, held the day after...

Surprise endings to a week of bad news on energy and...

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More than a hundred representatives of energy efficiency and renewable energy businesses descended on Richmond Tuesday for Clean Energy Lobby Day. After meetings with legislators, many of them stayed to attend a critical subcommittee meeting where most of this year's clean energy bills came up for votes. And they came away with one overpowering impression: the only bills that can make it out of committee are the ones supported by the state's utilities, especially Dominion Power.

But that wasn't quite the end of the story. Because by the end of the week, they also found that the groundwork they had laid with their lobbing, and their tenaciousness before the subcommittee, created an opening they would not otherwise have had.

First, the bad news, and plenty of it
Things started bleakly. The House Commerce and Labor Subcommittee on Energy turned back multiple proposals that would have benefited Virginia's small renewable energy and energy efficiency businesses, as well as their customers. Going down to defeat were bills to improve the renewable portfolio standard (HB 1913), create an energy efficiency resource standard (HB 1730), require a more rigorous study before utilities can impose standby charges (HB 1911), make third-party PPAs legal across the state (HB 1925), and enable an innovative vehicle-to-grid (V2G) project (HB 2073).  

Your 2015 legislative session cheat sheet: Clean energy bills

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I'm starting my review of 2015 energy legislation with a look at bills dealing with renewable energy and energy efficiency. Most of these bills will be heard in the committees on Commerce and Labor, though bills that cost money (tax credits and grants) usually go to Finance.

Bills referred to Senate Commerce and Labor are heard by the full committee, which meets on Monday afternoons. It consists of 14 members: 11 Republicans and 3 Democrats. They form a tough lineup; none of these senators received better than a "C" on the Sierra Club's Climate and Energy Scorecard.

The House bills are typically assigned to the 13-member Special Subcommittee on Energy (10 Republicans and 3 Democrats, no fixed schedule, but we've heard February 3d is the likely date). Bills that do not meet the approval of Dominion Power can expect a quick death here on an unrecorded voice vote, never to be heard from again. But on the plus side, the meetings are often quite lively, like old-fashioned hangings.

Net metering bills

Net metering is the policy that allows owners of solar (or other renewable) energy systems to be credited for the excess power they feed back into the grid when the systems produce a surplus; the owners use the credits when their systems aren't supplying power and they need to draw electricity from the grid. Virginia law restricts who can use net metering, and how much. Expanding net metering is a major goal of renewable energy advocates, who argue it offers a free market approach to growth-give customers the freedom to build solar projects, get the utility out of the way, and solar will thrive.

This year's initiatives include:  

An End to Clean Energy in Virginia???

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Today's news from the Washington Post that Dominion Virginia Power and Attorney General Cuccinelli have reached an agreement on Virginia's renewable energy law, if true, could mean a dagger through the heart for Virginia's clean energy industry.

Some within the environmental community will disagree with me, and they would probably tell you the law was so bad that it should be repealed and replaced with a new more effective clean energy standard.  I would agree if that were a possibility but, it is not.

Here are a couple of the realities which come to fruition if Virginia's voluntary RPS is repealed:

First, investments in clean, renewable energy are now subject to the strictest interpretation of the Virginia State Corporation Commission.  The commission has never approved a full clean energy proposal put forward by Dominion.  It has limited the size of the utility's energy efficiency and solar programs.