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Press Releases

Virginia News: Gov. Northam signs Clean Economy Act

Apr 13, 2020

Lee Francis, Virginia League of Conservation Voters, (434) 989-3197, lfrancis@valcv.org

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act into law yesterday! The Clean Economy Act is the strongest climate bill in Virginia history and will eliminate electricity sector carbon emissions by 2045. Virginia LCV sent the following joint press release with Virginia Advanced Energy Economy on the news this morning.

This major victory is the result of years of hard work – read Virginia LCV’s memo for more details on the legislation and advocacy efforts.

Governor Northam signs Virginia Clean Economy Act, puts Commonwealth on the Path to Economic Recovery and Healthy Communities 

 New law to put tens of thousands of Virginians to work

RICHMOND, VA – Gov. Ralph Northam’s signature of the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) makes the Commonwealth the first among Southern states to set a goal of 100 percent low-cost and efficient clean energy by 2045.

The Act provides incentives for wind and solar power development, consumer ownership of rooftop solar systems, and steps to make old buildings and new construction more energy efficient. Among the goals set in the Act is a target of 5.2 gigawatts of power to come from offshore wind – enough energy to power 1.5 million Virginia homes.

Virginia’s General Assembly passed the Act before the extent of the coronavirus and its economic impact were known, but the measures included in the legislation will improve community health through clean air and help Virginia’s economy recover. Analysts had estimated that the VCEA will generate 13,000 jobs a year while providing low-cost, clean and price-stable energy for a growing economy across the Commonwealth. Last year there were more than 100,000 Virginians working in the fast-growing clean energy sector. Once the immediate health crisis has been addressed and citizens can get back to work, leaders expect the VCEA will help Virginia’s economic recovery.

“The Virginia Clean Economy Act is a transformative, landmark bill and represents a historic moment in Virginia’s energy and environmental policy,” said Delegate Rip Sullivan, a patron, or sponsor, of the Act. “With the Governor’s signature the VCEA is now law, and as we focus as a nation on the current health and economic crises, the VCEA is poised to unleash the renewable energy industry to help restore and grow Virginia’s economy. We are finally on a clear path to upgrade our energy portfolio for the 21st century, create thousands of new, good-paying jobs, and address the ongoing climate change crisis.”

“This is the most significant clean energy law in Virginia history,” said Senator Jennifer McClellan, also a patron. “The bill that the Governor signed today will make Virginia the first southern state with a 100 percent Clean Energy Standard. The Virginia Clean Economy Act will create thousands of clean energy jobs, make major progress in fighting climate change, and break Virginia’s reliance on fossil fuels.”

“The General Assembly and Gov. Northam had a vision, embodied in the VCEA, that job creation and economic growth could coincide with clean air and healthy communities,” said Harry Godfrey, executive director of Virginia Advanced Energy Economy. “With the Governor’s signature of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, that vision is now a reality, and, even more, a lifeline for new jobs and economic recovery in the midst of the current health crisis.”

Michael Town, executive director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, said limiting pollution that has been tied to health issues in children and adults, as well as to climate change, has never been more important for the Commonwealth.

“Air pollution from fossil fuels contributes to death from coronavirus and heart and lung disease,” Town said. “As Virginia battles through an unprecedented public health crisis, Governor Northam just secured cleaner air for all Virginians. By signing the Virginia Clean Economy Act into law, Northam has taken the biggest step forward in addressing the climate crisis of any Governor in Virginia’s history and made a huge investment in the health of our families for years to come.”

“Clean tech businesses across Virginia and the nation look forward to working with the Governor, lawmakers, regulators and the private sector on swift and thorough implementation of this historic law,” said VA-AEE’s Godfrey.

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Virginia Advanced Energy Economy is a business organization that includes local and national advanced energy companies seeking to make Virginia’s energy system more secure, clean, and affordable.

The Virginia League of Conservation Voters serves as the political voice of the state’s conservation community, working to make sure Virginia’s elected officials recognize that our natural heritage is an environmental and economic treasure for all.