As Virginia’s General Assembly session kicks into full gear, environmental advocates, energy efficiency experts, and clean energy companies like Sun Tribe have all been asking the same question: how can the Commonwealth reach its much-needed goal of getting to 100 percent clean energy by 2050? The answer is the Virginia Clean Economy Act – an essential piece of legislation that’s going to eliminate the obstacles to on-site solar, improve resiliency, provide support for low- and moderate-income communities, and ensure a carbon-free future. Thanks to a strong Virginia Solar For All coalition, which includes leading clean energy companies like Sun Tribe, there’s a real effort to educate legislators and the public about the benefits of Virginia Clean Economy Act, including the fact that it will create 29,500 solar jobs.
What is the Virginia Clean Economy Act?
Here are the facts: right now, Virginia is home to a growing clean energy sector – leading on-shore wind providers like Apex Clean Energy, energy efficiency trailblazers like Lumin, and leading residential solar companies like Sun Day Solar. Sun Tribe joined with these industry leaders and environmental advocates from the League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, and others to create the Virginia Clean Economy Act around four guiding principles:
Image from vacleaneconomy.org
The benefits of the Virginia Clean Economy Act are significant for Virginia’s taxpayers. The legislation focuses on ensuring that every community in Virginia has access to a more sustainable future. Passing the Virginia Clean Energy Act would mean: $68.7 billion in net benefits for Virginians; protecting coastal communities in the Commonwealth; expanding access to on-site solar for individuals, schools, local governments, and businesses; and generating up to $3,500 in savings for the average Virginia household over the next 30 years. And the media coverage has focused on the strong coalition working to make this bill a law, as well as the benefits for schools. Take a look at this article in Charlottesville Tomorrow to see how outlets are reporting this important solar news.
One of the most exciting parts of the Virginia Clean Economy Act is the potential to create Virginia clean energy jobs in solar, wind, and other industries. That’s especially true for distributed clean energy. According to a study completed by the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis at Virginia Commonwealth University, distributed energy – including on-site solar – would create 29,500 jobs under the Virginia Clean Economy Act.
In addition to this flood of clean energy jobs, passing the Virginia Clean Economy Act would lead to $4.3 billion in economic investment over the next decade, and generate over $1 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenues.
Expanding Access to Power Purchase Agreements
Power Purchase Agreements are an essential tool for schools, local governments, and non-profits looking to embrace on-site solar, expand learning opportunities for students, and build a clean energy future. Thanks to Power Purchase Agreements, Sun Tribe was able to work closely with Middlesex County Public Schools to create the first school district in Virginia to have 100 percent of its schools powered by on-site renewable energy.
Unfortunately, now that the Power Purchase Agreement cap has been reached, communities in Virginia are in danger of being left behind, as reporting from the Virginia Mercury recently highlighted.
Since the Power Purchase Agreement program was created by the General Assembly in 2013, it’s now the responsibility of the General Assembly to do the right thing and ensure that every community that wants access to on-site solar through Power Purchase Agreements has access to this money-saving program.
That’s why the Virginia Clean Economy Act raises the PPA cap and ensures that leaders and residents at the local level can make their own clean energy choices, without being restrained by a cap that keeps them from meeting their needs.
Learn how you can help pass the Virginia Clean Energy Act by reaching out to your legislator here on the VA Clean Economy Act Website.