On Feb. 11, the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate passed different versions of the Clean Economy Act, which sets a deadline of 2050 for the state to achieve zero carbon emissions from the power sector and transition to 100 percent renewable energy.
Under the Clean Economy Act, electric utilities would be required to slowly transition to 100 percent renewable energy sources over the next 30 years, meeting annual goals along the way. This mandatory renewable energy portfolio standard would replace the state’s voluntary program. The bill would also require utilities to achieve annual energy savings targets through implementation of energy efficiency programs. It would also encourage residential solar.
Some opponents of the bill have argued that the legislation is not ambitious enough in its timeline for reducing carbon emissions. Others have expressed concern that it would rapidly increase electricity costs due to early retirements of coal and gas plants as well as large new investments in offshore wind.
State Sen. Jennifer McClellan told the Virginia Mercury that the risks posed by climate change justify the potential for higher bills.
“The cost of doing nothing is staggering,” she told the Mercury on Feb. 11.
For more about the Virginia legislative session, click here.