Va. report endorses renewable power for state agencies; zero-emission vehicles

A Virginia report authorized by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) calls for a renewable procurement target by state agencies; use of zero-emission vehicles and other steps designed to reduce the impact of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

 The report, issued Dec. 21, also calls for establishment of a climate change and resilience center; creation of a new state “bank” for clean energy and resilience projects, among other steps.

The renewable procurement target builds upon a McAuliffe executive order that would establish requirement that the state reduce electricity consumption in state facilities by 15% by 2017, using 2009-2010 energy consumption levels as a baseline.

The workgroup did not recommend a specific target, though it did discuss targets ranging from 25% to 30% renewable energy procurement by 2025.

There was a certain amount of dissent on this and other points in the report. “Some members noted that renewables are more expensive than current energy prices. Others noted that long-term energy prices for fossil-fuel resources are volatile and renewables potentially provide a hedge on that volatility.”

There was also a discussion on whether a full-fledged renewable portfolio standard (RPS) was not considered. Such a standard would require authorization by the Virginia General Assembly, the report noted.

The governor plans a renewable energy procurement target that will see state government derive approximately 8% of its electricity from solar energy within the next three years. 

McAuliffe issued an executive order in July 2014 convening the Governor’s Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission.

The Commission, co-chaired by Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward and Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran, was directed to develop up to five actionable recommendations and submit those recommendations in a report to the Governor. On July 1, 2015, Governor McAuliffe signed Executive Order 45 extending the Commission’s work for one year.

The Commission was directed to utilize Governor Kaine’s Commission on Climate Change and the resulting 2008 Climate Change Action Plan as a starting point for the discussion.

The report called upon the governor to use certain alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) funds to help local and state agencies convert fleets to electric or natural gas vehicles.

The report also calls for funding to monitor recurrent flooding and sea level rise in Virginia. “Sea level along the Virginia coastline has risen more than a foot over the past century and there is recent evidence that the rate of rise is accelerating,” according to the report.

The commission members included dozens of members from government sector, academia, the environmental movement and the electric utility sector.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.