Statement on Proposed Energy Legislation – HB 1558

Zero Carbon Virginia is a group of Virginian scientists, engineers, economists and public health experts who seek to guide our state toward practical, cost-effective, sustainable, healthy, and therefore ultimately carbon- free, energy production and distribution technologies. Driven by the urgency to address public health, climate change and the economic and quality-of-life opportunities that are enabled by advanced technologies, we seek long-term solutions, in collaboration with legislators and other groups, that will allow Virginia to lead in low cost, clean energy production.

We applaud the efforts of all who are working to move Virginia’s energy infrastructure and economy forward. HB 1558 represents an ambitious plan to shape Virginia’s energy future. Such a consequential plan must be deliberated, must be clear and transparent, and must serve the interests of all Virginians. Currently this bill does not meet these criteria.

Addressing Virginia’s energy future is a complex long-term exercise. It is enticing to think that a single, broad-scale effort, will address Virginia’s energy future for years to come. However, this is not a prudent path. We must be deliberate in developing a vision for our energy future, and this vision must be discussed openly and widely. We urge you, our legislators, not to press forward with the proposed bill, but rather take these clear important intermediate steps to address Virginia’s future in energy:

  1. Restore and enhance the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) oversight of Virginia’s regulated utilities through annual reviews.
  2. Establish a mandatory renewable portfolio standard (RPS) as outlined in HB 436 and HB 1490 to move Virginia towards expanding renewable energy.
  3. Establish the Virginia Commission on Energy and Environment as a legislative commission to review and recommend steps to implement the Virginia Energy Plan as proposed in HB 946.

Furthermore, the separate issue of windfall profits by Virginia’s regulated utilities should be addressed through these steps:

  1. End the 2015 rate freeze effective 12/31/17 and directly return excess profits from the rate freeze to the people, without caveat or exception.
  2. Pass HB 1573 Income tax, corporate; SCC, to adjust the base rates of electric utilities to take into account changes in federal tax rates.

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