HB 1686/ SB 1648: The Renewables First Act
The Renewables First Act (HB-1686 / SB-1648) will place a moratorium on constructing new fossil fuel electric generation capacity until 5,500 megawatts of wind and solar energy capacity is installed. This would equal 20% of installed capacity, providing 5-10% of the annual power generated by Virginia electric utilities.
SUMMARY OF ISSUES
- The recent U.N. report on Global Warming warns that the world faces severe, irreversible consequences and that 70-80% of the world’s electricity needs to come from renewable sources by 2050.[1,2,3]. The last time CO2 levels were at today’s concentrations, global temperatures were 4-5°F warmer; the arctic was 20° warmer; and sea levels were at least 60 feet higher.
- Virginia lags far behind most states in wind and solar energy..
- Legislation passed in 2017 establishes wind and solar energy to be in the public interest.[6,7] The bill allows, but does not require, Virginia utilities to install up to 5500 MW of wind and solar capacity.
- Dominion Energy plans to build a minimum of eight new gas plants over the next 15 years, along with renewables, to meet the state’s electrical needs.
- New fossil fuel plants have an estimated life expectancy 35 years. With a rapidly changing economic and political landscape for renewable energy, these plants are at risk for becoming obsolete, with Virginia ratepayers financing these stranded assets.
- HB 1686 places a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants until 5500 MW of wind and solar are built. This will focus utilities on finding and implementing long term solutions for fully integrating zero-carbon sources into the grid, while the politics and economics for renewable energy continue to become more favorable.
- Renewable energy creates jobs and makes Virginia competitive in attracting businesses that value clean energy.