Virginia passed a landmark law on March 6 which makes it the first state in the southern United States to commit to achieving 100 percent renewable energy. The Virginia Clean Economy Act of 2020 includes plans to eliminate emissions from the electricity sector and create 13,000 new clean energy jobs annually.
The law will create an estimated $69.7 billion in net benefits for Virginians through pollution reduction and reduced energy costs. Specifics of the legislation include increased investment in wind and solar as well as incentives for personal and community solar panel installment. The state also plans to increase energy efficiency measures, specifically in low-income areas. One of the first steps is involvement in a regional cap-and-trade program with the proceeds being used to support vulnerable communities.
Both chambers of Virginia’s legislature passed into democratic control in 2019 which allowed the bill to move forward with the help of specific, environmentally-focused campaigns.
This new legislation brings Virginia to the forefront of progressive environmental trends. Only seven other states and 150 cities across the U.S. have made commitments to 100 percent renewable energy. New York City, which has one of the most extensive green energy plans, has committed to 100 percent renewable energy in its electricity sector by 2040. This legislation, especially coming from a southern state, is a significant step towards a greener and economically prosperous future via renewable energy.