HB 1686/ SB 1648 – The Renewables First Act

HB 1686/ SB 1648: The Renewables First Act

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

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[4].
  • Virginia lags far behind most states in wind and solar energy.[5].
  • 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.[8]
  • New fossil fuel plants have an estimated life expectancy 35 years[9]. 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.

Read what others say about the RFA

Five Things You Can Do to Get the Renewables First Act Passed