Virginia General Assembly Adjourns – Large Gains in Clean Energy

Virginia legislative building

Christopher E. West, Executive Director of Conservatives for Clean Energy Virginia, explains the clean energy happenings of the regular session in The General Assembly and the resulting pieces of legislation.

The General Assembly adjourned Sine Die on March 10, 2018, completing their legislative business for the regular session. This session was one of the most aggressive at advancing clean energy policies in recent history. As a result of the legislation below, Virginia will see an unprecedented amount of clean energy put in the public interest, including solar, wind, and battery storage. Our grid will be modernized and transformed to accommodate the growth in clean energy. The Commonwealth will make great strides in improving energy efficiency programs, helping customers save money on their gas and electric bills and reducing overall energy demand. Virginians will also have more rights to install solar on their own property. Members of the General Assembly should be commended for their strong support of advancing clean energy in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

HB 1558 (Kilgore) / SB 966 (Wagner) – The Grid Transformation & Security Act – The Grid Transformation and Security Act of 2018 makes several consequential policy changes that will lead to: substantive energy efficiency investments, including effectively getting rid of the RIM test when approving efficiency programs, major extension of the EnergyShare Program for low-income families and those on fixed incomes in Virginia; widespread adoption of affordable solar and wind energy, including a tenfold increase to 5,000 megawatts in solar energy – which is equal to powering more than a million households at peak generation; a framework for research and investments in battery storage, and a smart grid that will be needed to accommodate renewables.

This legislation incorporates:

HB 782 (Habeeb) – Battery Storage – Requires the State Corporation Commission to conduct pilot programs under which Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power are required to submit proposals to deploy batteries.

HB 1215 (Hugo) – Electric utilities; solar generation capacity; public interest – Declares that the construction or purchase of certain solar generation facilities, or the purchase of the energy, capacity, and environmental attributes from the facilities, is in the public interest.

HB 1261 (Hugo) / SB 855 (Sturtevant) – Energy efficiency programs – Provides that an energy efficiency program proposed by an electric utility is in the public interest if the net present value of the benefits exceeds the net present value of the costs as determined by any three of four benefit cost tests.

SB 573 (Hanger) – Green job creation tax credit – Extends through 2020 the sunset date for the green job creation tax credit. The green job tax credit was originally created at the recommendation of Governor Bob McDonnell in 2010.

HB 509 (Hodges) / SB 179 (Stanley) – Comprehensive plan; solar facilities – Provides that a solar facility subject to provisions requiring the facility to be substantially in accord with a locality’s comprehensive plan shall be deemed to be substantially in accord with the comprehensive plan if (i) such proposed solar facility is located in a zoning district that allows such solar facilities by right or (ii) such proposed solar facility is designed to serve the electricity or thermal needs of the property upon which such facility is located.

HB 508 (Hodges) / SB 429 (Stanley) –  Local regulation of solar facilities – Provides that a property owner may install a solar facility on the roof of a building to serve the electricity of that building, provided that such installation is in compliance with any height and setback requirements, as well as any provisions pertaining to any local historic or architectural preservation district.