Considering Feasibility in the Creation of the Virginia Clean Economy Act of 2020

June 2021
Joe Shangraw

Many US States have adopted policies known as renewable portfolio standards (RPS) to address climate change by mandating the production of electricity from renewable energy sources. In 2020, Virginia became one of the few states to implement an RPS that mandates 100% renewable energy by 2045. This bill, known as the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), has national significance given the partisanship of the state legislature and Virginia’s lack of current renewable infrastructure. This case study examined the VCEA and surrounding discussions to determine whether the bill fully addressed concerns of economic and social feasibility, such as proper protections for utility companies, ratepayers, and vulnerable communities within the state. Data sources included the bill text, discussions from the Virginia legislature floor sessions, and an interview with a Virginia Senator who co-sponsored the bill. The findings of this research indicate that the VCEA properly addressed the feasibility concerns of both Dominion Energy and environmental groups, while implementing protections for Virginia ratepayers, especially those in low-income communities. Virginia’s new RPS is a comprehensive bill that could serve as an example for other partisan states looking to meet aggressive energy goals in the coming years.