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Report: Virginia Would Gain from Transition to Clean Electricity

Posted by Monique Hanis on Sep 24, 2019

 A new report shows benefits in bill savings, jobs, and GDP would exceed costs for switch to
100% carbon-free energy, as called for by Gov. Northam

WARRENTON, Va., September 24, 2019 – Virginians would benefit in monthly electricity bills, jobs, income, and state GDP, as well as health and environment, by a transition to zero-carbon sources of electricity. That is the top finding of a new report released today by business group Virginia Advanced Energy Economy (Virginia AEE).

Virginia’s Energy Transition: Charting the Benefits and Tradeoffs of Virginia's Transition to a 100% Clean Grid,” prepared for national business association Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) by the Greenlink Group, in association with GridLab, utilized the ATHENIA Model – resource planning software similar to what is employed by utilities – to assess the impact of transitioning to zero-carbon electricity. Last week, Gov. Ralph Northam issued an Executive Order calling for carbon-free electricity for the Commonwealth by 2050.

The report assesses three scenarios – reaching zero-emission electricity by 2030, 2040, or 2050, respectively – and compares them with a “business as usual” projection based on utility plans. The report finds that all three zero-carbon scenarios produce savings on electric bills for an average household; net benefits in job creation, labor income, and state GDP; and reduced local and global air pollution, over the period 2020 to 2050.

“This report shows that the goal of 100% clean energy Gov. Northam laid out last week is not only achievable but beneficial,” said Harry Godfrey, Executive Director of Virginia AEE. “Virginians would save money and enjoy a stronger economy if we took steps to achieve that goal, rather than continuing with business as usual on energy. This report should serve as a clear call to action for lawmakers in our Commonwealth.”

As the report details, Virginia could make this transition utilizing a combination of advanced energy resources available today, such as energy efficiency, demand response, renewable generation, and battery storage. All three Zero Carbon Scenarios show net economic gains, as well as health and environmental benefits, over the 30-year period.

The greatest economic benefits come from making the transition most rapidly – by 2030 – though initial electric bills are higher. By spreading decarbonization out over a longer time horizon (2040 or 2050), Virginians realize household bill savings every year through 2050, with average households saving a total of $2,500 to $3,500 over the 30-year period, though the gains in jobs, income, and GDP are somewhat lower.

Specific findings include:

  • Virginia can successfully transition to a 100% carbon-free electric grid that will provide affordable, reliable, and cleaner electricity.
  • In all zero-carbon scenarios, renewable generation and battery energy storage systems become the major source of both energy and capacity. By the late 2020s, battery storage becomes the least-cost capacity resource, replacing more expensive gas peaker plants.
  • Residential electric bills are significantly lower over the 30-year period in every zero-carbon scenario. Compared to business as usual, the average total household savings from 2020 to 2050 range from $1,500 under the Zero Carbon 2030 Scenario to $3,500 under Zero Carbon 2050.
  • Every major local and global air pollutant is reduced substantially. The cumulative value of avoiding the public health costs related to localized air pollution is greater than $3.5 billion and the value of avoiding greenhouse gas emissions is greater than $25 billion.
  • All zero-carbon scenarios led to net job growth from new energy efficiency measures and new renewable and battery storage resources. On average, Zero Carbon Scenario job creation exceeds business as usual by an average of 7,000 to 13,000 jobs per year.
  • Based on cost-benefit analysis, the zero-carbon scenarios offer total benefits ranging from $80 billion to $106 billion as compared to business as usual, and net benefits ranging from $13.6 billion to $80 billion.

“This report shows that Virginia has everything to gain, and nothing to lose, by pursuing Gov. Northam’s goal of 100% clean energy,” said Godfrey. “By making the switch to advanced energy technologies, Virginians will see savings and economic growth while enjoying cleaner air. The only question before us is how quickly to make that happen.”

The report was released during a residential solar energy installation and energy efficiency demonstration by Sigora Solar in Warrenton, Va.

About AEE and Virginia AEE
In Virginia, Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) operates as Virginia Advanced Energy Economy (Virginia AEE), a group of businesses that are making the energy we use secure, clean, and affordable. Virginia AEE seeks to drive the development of advanced energy to boost the state’s economy and competitiveness by working to remove policy barriers, identify market growth opportunities, encourage market-based policies, establish public and private partnerships, and serve as the voice for companies innovating in the advanced energy sector. Track industry news @AEEnet and @VA_AEE.


Topics: Press Releases