Virginia Lays Out Carbon-Free Power Plan With Solar, Wind Targets

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Gov. Ralph Northam, D-Va., has signed an executive order focused on bringing Virginia to carbon-free energy by 2050.

Executive Order No. 43 lays out Virginia’s objectives for statewide energy production, including a goal that by 2030, 30% of electricity will be powered by renewable energy resources, and by 2050, 100% of electricity will be produced from carbon-free sources, such as wind, solar and nuclear.

The path forward includes ensuring that at least 3 GW of solar and onshore wind are under development by 2022, and that up to 2.5 GW of offshore wind is fully developed by 2026.

“Since I took office, our administration has been focused on establishing a strong and bold vision for Virginia as we work to modernize our electric grid and reduce barriers to the development of clean energy resources,” says Northam. “We know the importance of a true shift to reliance on renewable energy sources in reducing our carbon footprint, growing our economy and creating the clean energy jobs of the future. This executive order will help ensure that Virginia remains at the forefront of clean energy innovation; meets the urgency of the challenges brought on by climate change; and captures the economic, environmental and health benefits of this energy growth in an equitable way that benefits all Virginians.”

The order also sets forth a goal of procuring at least 30% of the electricity consumed by the commonwealth’s agencies and executive branch institutions from renewable resources by 2022. Earlier this year, a 120 kW solar project was installed for the Virginia Department of Forestry.

“These energy goals send a clear signal to renewable energy industries that the commonwealth is open for business and that we will be a trailblazer in the development solar and wind energy,” says Brian Ball, secretary of commerce and trade.

Ball and the state’s chief workforce advisor plan to work with stakeholders to develop an energy workforce plan that supports the growing needs of the energy efficiency and renewable energy sector and creates career pathways for the communities that need them the most.

GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic, applauding the announcement, points out that the executive order acknowledges that clean and renewable energy advancements offer opportunities “to address and prevent energy inequities facing Virginia’s most vulnerable populations, including low-income communities and communities of color.” To take full advantage of the opportunities that the energy transition presents, Virginia agencies must prioritize the voices and leadership of communities on the front lines of climate change in developing the energy plan of action, the group says.

“GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic applauds this vision for an equitable transition of Virginia’s energy system towards clean, renewable energy,” comments Nicole Steele, executive director of GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic. “The governor has set forth a bold plan for an energy future that includes everyone. This is exactly what we need today: action that lifts up our frontline communities and communities of color. At GRID, we echo this sentiment by doubling down on our commitment to bring clean energy and good careers to low- and moderate-income communities in the commonwealth.

“We look forward to helping Virginia develop and implement forward-looking plans to achieve this vision, which will drive economic growth and environmental benefits in Virginia communities most impacted by underemployment, pollution and climate change,” Steele adds.

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