Ralph Northam, the Governor of Virginia, announced the signing of Executive Order 43 this past week, which lays out plans for dramatic increases in the amount of renewable energy generated in the state of Virginia. The plan calls for 30% of Virginia’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030, and for 100% of Virginia’s electricity to come from carbon free sources by 2050. The state already had separate goals of 15% renewable energy content by 2025, and 2,500 MW of wind and solar generation capacity by 2028. It appears these new goals would replace the previous targets.
The order goes on to specifically seek to have 3,000 MW of solar and onshore wind under development by 2022 and 2,500 MW of offshore wind under development by 2026. The executive order does not chart the specific path to achieve these goals, instead delegating that authority to several different government agencies. This will likely ramp up pressure from groups that have been pushing to allow competitive choice for retail electricity more broadly than the limited options available today. The state’s 2 large investor-owned utilities, Dominion Energy and AEP-owned Appalachian Power, have fought hard to limit and even eliminate the narrow opportunities for large power consumers to purchase competitive and/or renewable electricity. Business, consumer and environmental groups have been fighting to expand that program to give consumers more control over their electricity costs, and the ability to contract for their chosen sources of power, specifically renewables for the most part.