A publication of Appalachian Voices

A publication of Appalachian Voices

Inside Appalachian Voices

Solar, Environmental Justice and Utility Reform in Virginia


Chelsea Barnes of Appalachian Voices lobbies in Richmond, Va., in favor of a grant program that would incentivize solar development on former mine and industrial sites.

Appalachian Voices and our partners have a strong presence in the Virginia General Assembly this session. We are advocating for policies in three key areas: reforming public oversight of monopoly utilities, ensuring all customers have access to clean, affordable energy like solar, and strengthening environmental justice. The session was ongoing at press time.

In the solar arena, we’re pushing to lift restrictions on home solar and expand third-party financing, a critical tool for reducing the cost of solar. Additional legislation could create community solar programs in which neighborhoods or apartment dwellers can all benefit from a shared solar facility. We are also working to create a grant program in the state budget to encourage renewable energy development on coal-impacted lands and other brownfields.

Among the bills we are supporting with the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative is one that would ensure state agencies develop environmental justice policies that are incorporated into their decision-making.

Regarding electric utility regulation, one bipartisan bill we are backing would restore regulators’ authority to review electricity rates and set reasonable profit levels for Dominion Energy. Another would protect consumers from paying billions of dollars for pipeline infrastructure if the state finds the additional fuel unnecessary or not cost-effective to provide electricity to customers. We also supported a bill to end Virginia’s monopoly utility system and allow families and businesses to choose where they get their electricity. That measure was carried over to the 2021 legislative session.

See the status of these bills and contact your representative at appvoices.org/va-legislature-2020.

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2020 — Spring

2020 — Spring

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