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Virginia moving toward clean energy with Executive Order

Climate change is a worldwide challenge, becoming more and more serious and urgent. However, not every global challenge needs to be solved at a global level; sometimes global problems need local action. That demonstrates a proactive approach, instead of deferring responsibilities to other levels.

With this in mind, Governor Ralph Northam announced his Executive order about clean energy access and development at the Virginia Clean Energy Summit on September 17th.

The executive order number forty-three (2019) sets the next goals for the energy industry in the Commonwealth, targeting a transition to a more modern and technological advanced electric grid system. The core point of the document is that decarbonization and the shift to clean energy are now essential requirements to meet the pressing challenge of climate change. As the Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler said: “The public health, public safety, and economic consequences of climate change are undeniable, and this Executive Order is a necessary piece of our strategy to reduce carbon pollution and related emissions and improve quality of life for all Virginians.”

Role of Virginia’s energy industry

Historically the energy industry has always had a central role in the economy of the Commonwealth of Virginia. However until now the policy of this sector has been focused on the traditional model: traditional centralized power stations and conventional transmission and deployment infrastructures.

The Governor claims a change in terms of procedures and technologies in this field, to ensure a more efficient use of resources and a lower impact on the planet. For this reason the priority is on carbon-free sources of electricity or renewable sources such as solar and wind.

With this measure, in the near future, a large portion of the economy will be allowed to rely on electricity, including transportation, heating and industrial processes.

Environmental Justice

Furthermore this action also has a social dimension concerning the issue of environmental justice. In fact as many researches from American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy show, nowadays low-income households (single family, multifamily buildings, minority households) pay more than the average household for energy costs, sustaining a higher burden than other citizens in the same city. The transition toward cleaner energy, energy sector innovation and new efficiency strategies can contribute to decrease inequality, to ease the energy access and to lower the energy bills. That means that the outcomes won’t be exclusively correlated to environmental issues but they will imply benefits in health and welfare for all Virginians.

By the numbers

In practical terms, the goal is to reach 30% of Virginia’s whole electric system powered by renewable energy resources by the year 2030; and 100% by the year 2050.

The action involves different departments (starting from the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy), authorities and institutions and entails a series of guidelines.

The main resources considered are solar and onshore (also known as land-based) wind energy for which the power provided is expected at least about 3,000 megawatts by the year 2022 and offshore wind energy which should reach at least 2,500 megawatts by 2026. In addition, energy storage devices will become increasingly important. As complements of energy sources, these kind of technologies will be integrated into the grid through the pairing of them with systems like rooftop solar.

With a more efficient use of resources Virginia’s energy goals will ensure cost savings, job creation and the reduction of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants. To help Virginia attain these ambitious goals, do your part by going solar! We make it easy to get started today.


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