The Virginia House of Delegates and Senate agreed to a final version of the Virginia Clean Economy Act. It will make Virginia’s electric grid carbon-free by 2045 while also incorporating stronger protections for electric utility ratepayers.
The bill, SB 851, heads to the desk of Gov. Ralph Northam, whose administration has been heavily involved in pushing it forward.
The Clean Economy Act cleared the House on a 51-45 vote and the Senate on a 22-17 vote. It represented the end of a session-long push by clean energy and environmental groups to reach a compromise acceptable to the state’s powerful electric utilities, Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power Co.
The Virginia Clean Economy Act established a schedule by which Dominion Energy Virginia and American Electric Power are required to retire electric generating units that emit carbon as a byproduct of combusting fuel to generate electricity and by which they are required to construct, acquire, or enter into agreements to purchase generating capacity located in the commonwealth using energy derived from sunlight or onshore wind.
Among other things, the measure also requires, by 2035, American Electric Power and Dominion Energy Virginia to construct or acquire 400 and 2,700 megawatts of energy storage capacity, respectively, and establishes an energy efficiency standard under which each investor-owned incumbent electric utility is required to achieve incremental annual energy efficiency savings that start in 2022 at 0.25% of the average annual energy retail sales by that utility in 2019 and increase annually.