Planning for Zero Carbon 2050

The Virginia Energy Plan is currently being updated as required under Virginia Code § 67-201. The plan is updated every four years and covers a ten year period. The Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy is leading the effort and has hosted a number of public input sessions. They also are accepting written comments through Virginia Regulatory Town Hall online forum. Below is an expanded version of comments made by Zero Carbon’s Scott Emery at the August 16 public input session at George Mason University.

Over the decades, Virginia built its electric power industry following the common path of building big, centralized production facilities and expanding the electric power grid to make affordable electricity accessible to all. Abundant, energy-dense fossil fuels power most of our generation, and  have significantly shaped how our electric power industry operates. In many ways, this has been good for Virginia, but it is time for a change.

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Legislative Update – March 24, 2018

Virginia’s 2018 Legislative session closed on March 10, 2018. On the energy policy front, the big attention getter was the “Dominion Bill” (SB 966),  but a few other bills made it through the session as well.

Our list of energy policy related bills submitted for Virginia’s 2018 Legislative session is updated here. Bills that did not make it to the Governor’s desk are indicated by strike-through text.

Out of 93 bills that we identified as being of interest, 18 made it out of both the Senate and House. Among the bills that passed, 13 were Republican sponsored and 5 were Democrat sponsored. Governor Northam has signed six bills into law including SB 966. He will take action on the remaining bills by April 9, 2018.

One bill to pay attention to is HB 1270 Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative; prohibition on participation by Commonwealth. This bill prohibits participation in the CO2 Budget Trading Program that is discussed on our Executive Action Page. It is expected that Governor Northam will veto this bill and that it will not be overturned by the legislature.

Economics of residential solar in Virginia

You and I probably agree that solar is awesome. But does it make financial sense? To get an answer, we need to know three things: how much energy will be produced, how much the system will cost, and how are we going to come up with money to pay for it.

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How much energy will my system generate?

To get an estimate on that, we will head to PVWatts, enter our ZIP code (I’m using 20147 in Northern Virginia), choose a nearby weather station, then enter 1 for the system size (that’s kilowatts) and 33.7 for tilt — an equivalent to a fairly typical 8/12 roof pitch. The reason I’m looking at a 1 kW system is that we can use its numbers to get an estimate for any other size just by multiplying. If a 1 kW system generates $100 worth of electricity, then a 2 kW system will produce $200, it’s that simple.

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Legislative Update – February 4, 2018

Our list of energy policy related bills submitted for Virginia’s 2018 Legislative session is updated here. Bills that have have failed are indicated by strike-through text.

At this point, close to one-third of the tracked bills have failed in one way or another. In broad terms, bills relating to topics such as renewable portfolio standards, expanding privately owned distributed generation, and putting a price on carbon are failing to move forward.

Two bills have passed floor votes.  HB 508 Solar facilities; local regulation passed the House and SB 902 Property tax; exemption for solar energy equipment and facilities passed the Senate. They next will cross over for consideration in the other chamber.

Monday, February 5 and Tuesday, February 6 are shaping up to be significant days with respect energy policy in Richmond. Continue reading “Legislative Update – February 4, 2018”

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.

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Legislative Update – January 27, 2018

Our list of energy policy related bills submitted for Virginia’s 2018 Legislative session is updated here.

Two tracked bills have already failed to make it out of committee –SB 9 Electric utility regulation; suspension of reviews of earnings, transitional rate period and SB 696 Va. Alternative Energy & Coastal Protection Act; regulations to establish carbon dioxide cap, etc.

Continue reading “Legislative Update – January 27, 2018”

Legislative Action – Senate Bill 696: Cap and Trade

SB 696 Va. Alternative Energy & Coastal Protection Act; regulations to establish carbon dioxide cap, etc would put legislative support behind Governor McAuliffe’s initiative to establish a carbon trading program for Virginia. The bill is up on Thursday in the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources for consideration.

Show your support for this bill by contacting the Senators on this committee, especially if you are one of their constituents:

Stuart(Chairman), Hanger, Ruff, Obenshain, Petersen, Marsden, Stanley, Black, Ebbin, Lewis, Chafin, Dance,Suetterlein, Mason, McClellan

Call and write these senators to make your voice heard. Draft your own email or use this Support of SB 696 – Model Email to contact these Senators and show your support for SB 696.

Act early, the bill is the 2nd item on the committee’s agenda. The committee meets 1/2-hour after the Senate Session adjourns.