Preston Bryant Provides Overview of Virginia Clean Economy Act

May 11, 2020

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In the April 2020 edition of the Virginia Municipal League’s Virginia Town and City magazine, McGuireWoods Consulting senior vice president, Preston Bryant, detailed the various aspects and impacts of the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA). Passed by the Virginia General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Northam on April 11, the VCEA will transform the way the state’s electricity is generated, decarbonized and made more efficient.

The VCEA builds upon the Grid Transformation and Security Act (GTSA), passed in 2018, and charts a course to make Virginia’s electric grid 100 percent carbon-free by 2050.

“Also integral to the VCEA are cost control and ratepayer protections, achieved by increased State Corporation Commission authority, closely guarded energy generation project construction costs, periodic renewable energy cost studies, and an energy payment assistance program for low-income consumers,” Bryant wrote.

The long and complex legislation will dramatically change Virginia’s energy generation over the next 30 years in several ways. Bryant broke down the bill’s directives into seven categories:

  • Retire fossil-fuel and biomass plants, move to renewable energy sources
  • Utility scale solar and onshore wind
  • Distributed solar and net metering and offshore wind
  • Energy efficiency
  • Energy storage
  • Virginia to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)
  • Ratepayer protection – enhanced regulatory oversight, project cost controls, and low-income assistance

“In recent years, General Assembly members have introduced an increasing number of energy-related bills – dozens, in fact – with renewable energy, energy efficiency, and regulatory oversight characterizing most of them,” Bryant said. “This trend is likely to continue as legislators revisit and revise the law to meet minor and major challenges.”