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Utility Dive: Clean Energy Bill Marks Dramatic Transition for Virginia Amid Dispute Over Costs to Consumers

Posted by Lulia Gheorghiu on Mar 10, 2020

Utility Dive covered passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act quoting Virginia AEE's Harry Godfrey and highlighting AEE commissioned 5 Lakes Energy costs analysis. Read excerpts below and the entire UD piece here. 

The Virginia Clean Economy Act, which enjoyed wide support from environmental and clean energy groups, cleared both chambers and was sent to the governor's desk on Friday. The package presents a Democratic-led path to ambitious climate goals, and many clean energy advocates are lauding the effort as an example for other states. However, analysis from the State Corporation Commission has the leading utility in the state, Dominion Energy, collecting approximately $50.8 billion more from its customers due to the provisions.

Advocates for the bill have criticized the state regulators' estimate, saying the calculations don't take into account the benefits of the energy efficiency, renewables, energy storage and other initiatives mandated through the Virginia Clean Economy Act... Spurred by federal inaction and an increasing sense of urgency in addressing the climate challenge, more and more states are enacting ambitious goals.​

"This moves Virginia into a leadership position in terms of clean energy across the country," Harry Godfrey, Advanced Energy Economy director, told Utility Dive. "I couldn't name a state for you that has moved further, faster in terms of going from a laggard to a leader on these issues than Virginia has done today."​

The legislation has a major energy efficiency component, along with provisions to help electrify transportation and advance the development of renewables, including offshore wind, which Dominion is planning to build out. The bill's final version replaces the state's voluntary renewable portfolio standards with mandatory utility ownership for solar and and wind generation. Most notably, utilities must own or operate up to 5 GW of offshore wind generation. Dominion would also have to deploy 2.7 GW of energy storage by 2035...

According to an analysis released March 3 by 5 Lakes Energy, the Clean Economy Act would reduce bills of average residential customers in Virginia from $122.28 per month in 2020 to $118.87 per month in 2030. The report was requested by Advanced Energy Economy, after deeming the state regulator analysis as incomplete. SCC's analysis "took very high cost estimate numbers in those regions and they did not consider the other side of the ledger," such as fuel savings and energy consumption reductions, Godfrey told Utility Dive. He said AEE's analysis more thoroughly covered the impacts of the bill...

The SCC had no financial impact estimate for programs like energy efficiency, which is a large component of the bill. According to AEE's 5 Lakes analysis, the mandated level of energy efficiency can be realized by spending $140 million per year, while still leading to overall savings on customer bills...

Read the entire UD piece here. 

Topics: AEE In The News