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Energy News Network: Q&A: Advanced energy advocate says Virginia governor's plan 'falls short'

Posted by Elizabeth McGowan on Oct 28, 2022

Energy News Network interviewed Kim Jemaine on Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin's new energy plan. Read snippets below and the full article here

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin caused a stir early this month when he released an Energy Plan that doesn’t mention climate change in its 35 pages, an about-face from the carbon emissions-cutting pillars initiated by his Democratic predecessor.

That roiling continued at the recent Virginia Clean Energy Summit, where Youngkin provided a sweeping overview of an “all-of-the-above” plan that focuses on his guiding principles of reliability, affordability, innovation, competition and environmental stewardship.

While listeners politely applauded his talk, many had already expressed their disappointment with Youngkin’s proposals to subvert former Gov. Ralph Northam’s signature efforts to advance a once-lagging Southern state as a climate leader.

One of those critics is Kim Jemaine, who in her role as policy director at the Virginia chapter of Advanced Energy Economy, represents a broad swath of businesses statewide.

She characterizes Youngkin’s plan as a “U-turn away from a cleaner and cheaper energy future.”

The plan’s proposals would weaken the landmark Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), a 2020 law to decarbonize the state’s grid by 2050; repeal recently passed electric car standards, and pull the state out of a regional climate compact.

“It misses the mark,” Jemaine said, adding that it puts too much emphasis on hydrogen, small modular reactors and other nascent technologies instead of readily deployable renewables. 

“This energy plan falls short on finding ways to meet the five goals he laid out,” she said. “It sounds like something developed in a vacuum without consideration of the policies already on the books in Virginia.

“It’s a means to undermine them. And that’s a missed opportunity.”...

Q: Youngkin proposes reevaluating and reauthorizing the VCEA in 2023, then every five years thereafter. That first review is approaching quickly, yes?

A: This is a really problematic component … the legislation passed in 2020, so why isn’t the first review in 2025? 

These types of proposals do nothing but inject uncertainty into the marketplace, especially for energy developers with lengthy review processes. Without a clear framework, it’s hard for developers and large energy users to have any certainty or plan for the future...

Q: Youngkin’s plan states that the Clean Cars law should be repealed to protect grid reliability. Can you address this?

A: This law was passed to ensure that all Virginians have access to electric cars. It’s in alignment with the trajectory of auto manufacturers and where the marketplace is already going.

Repealing a law that doesn’t take effect for a couple of years means it would be more difficult for Virginia to access electric vehicles because manufacturers are prioritizing states with Clean Car standards. This is a way for Virginia to be at the front of the line...

Q: The potential for Virginia to become a manufacturing hub for both the solar and offshore wind industries is mentioned in four brief paragraphs about renewable energy in the plan’s “innovation” section. Did your member businesses feel shortchanged?

A: AEE focused heavily on economic development and job creation in our comments about the plan. The governor missed an opportunity to focus on technologies that already have momentum and are gaining traction.

For instance, the potential for offshore wind extends beyond (Dominion Energy’s 2.6-gigawatt) Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project. We could see 30 gigawatts along the Atlantic Coast in the next decade or so...

We need to secure Virginia’s position as a leader in clean energy and give investors confidence. The goals of the Virginia Clean Economy Act help us because they ensure a market in the state...

Q: Youngkin’s plan refers to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative as “simply a tax on ratepayers” and “a bad deal for Virginia.” How can that be when organizations have directed millions of RGGI dollars to fund flood prevention initiatives and energy efficiency projects for low-income Virginians?

A: The governor began outlining a RGGI removal plan as soon as he was elected. Through all of this, what we haven’t seen from this administration is a robust explanation for the government’s aversion to RGGI or an alternative for funding these types of programs.

Youngkin is focused on lower energy bills. One of the tangible benefits of RGGI is allowing folks to save on their energy bills because energy efficiency improvements are allowing them to consume less energy in their homes. 

We are going to see the impacts of flooding as temperatures rise. Rather than respond to emergencies, RGGI provides an opportunity to invest in resilience pre-emptively prior to it becoming a dire need.

Q: What’s missing from this conversation that Energy News Network readers should know?

A: The Virginia Clean Economy Act, Clean Cars and Virginia’s decision to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative were all passed by elected officials and have not been repealed yet.

Ideally, Youngkin’s plan would have found ways to leverage these laws and policies.

Read the full article here

Topics: Virginia, United In The News, Kim Jemaine