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Vox: Virginia Becomes the First State in the South to Target 100% Clean Power

Posted by David Roberts | Vox on Mar 12, 2020

Vox covered the passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act referencing AEE's Virginia Energy Transition Report. and jobs fact sheet. Read excerpts below and the entire Vox piece here. The story was also covered by Science Times here.

Over the last decade or so, Virginia has gradually transitioned from a purple to blue state. Now it will embark on another transition, from fossil fuels to clean, carbon-free electricity. After voting for Republican presidents going back to Richard Nixon in 1972, Virginians began consistently voting for Democrats for president in 2008. And they have a long tradition of Democratic governors, the latest being pediatric neurologist and Army veteran Ralph Northam, elected in 2017.

In September of 2019, Northam tried to do what Democrats generally do when elected: support clean energy. He issued Executive Order 43, which laid out a plan for the state to reach 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050 (in keeping with the consensus goal of national Democrats) and to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI, a nine-state carbon trading network)...

What Virginia has done is far more prescriptive, and in some ways redundant (if the cap reduces emissions, what’s the point of the RPS?), than an economist might prefer. Generally, economists like broad targets and wide latitude for how market actors reach them. That’s why they are always going on about carbon pricing. They don’t want policymakers to get into specific mandates for specific technologies.

But Virginia Democrats are legislating for the system they have, not the one they might want, and the system they have involves monopoly utilities that have held a lobbying lock on the legislature for years, have steadfastly resisted progress, and must be forced to take each step forward.

An analysis by the SCC found that utilities would increase rates to cover new storage and renewable energy, but it didn’t quantify energy efficiency benefits. A more complete study by Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) found that the bill would lower rates, create jobs, and boost state GDP. Advanced energy, especially efficiency, is a huge and growing source of employment in the state...

Read the entire Vox piece here. 

Topics: AEE In The News