RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia is catapulting itself to a national leadership role on renewable energy by becoming the seventh state in the U.S. to pass a law that commits to providing 100 percent carbon-free electricity to its citizens by mid-century. The Virginia Senate passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act today, sending the bill to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk for final approval.
The act removes barriers to solar and wind and commits the commonwealth to ramping up renewable energy. Renewables currently make up 7 percent of Virginia’s electricity, and the new law will propel them to at least 30 percent in the coming decade. In addition, the new law retires fossil fuel plants and establishes a mandatory target for utilities to generate 100 percent clean electricity by 2045.
Before Virginia, six additional states made legislative commitments to 100 percent clean electricity. Most recently, in June 2019, Maine and New York passed laws committing to 100 percent zero-carbon electricity, joining Hawaii (2015), California (2018), New Mexico (March 2019) and Washington state (May 2019). Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., have made similar commitments.
In response to today’s vote, Susan Rakov, Environment America’s Clean Energy Program chair, released the following statement:
“In state after state and city after city, people are demanding a new approach to America’s energy future, and today Virginia’s General Assembly said, ‘We hear you!’ As a result of campaigns across the country, one out of three Americans now live in a city or state that has made a commitment to 100 percent clean and renewable energy. Environment America is proud to have played a part in those campaigns, and we look forward to the next wave. Congratulations to Virginia -- it’s a great day to take a big step toward a better world.”