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Governor unveils state government’s renewable energy initiative

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Dec. 21 that the Commonwealth’s agencies will dramatically increase the use of renewable energy to power the state’s operations. 

This initiative was announced as part of the formal release of the report compiled by the Governor’s Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission, and sets a renewable energy procurement target that will see state government derive approximately 8% of its electricity from solar energy within the next three years.

The Commission report includes a series of recommendations for the Governor to address the impacts of climate change on the Commonwealth.  The renewable energy procurement target calls for a diverse portfolio of solar projects to be built primarily on state-owned property, with state agencies utilizing the power generated to supplement existing electricity usage and reduce the Commonwealth’s carbon footprint.

McAuliffe was quoted in a news release as saying, “The renewable energy procurement target will lower the state’s carbon emissions and help grow the solar industry in Virginia, a key strategy for building a new Virginia economy.”

The initiative will facilitate the deployment and offtake of 110MW of solar generation through agreements with Dominion Virginia Power and independent, third-party developers. 

In addition to implementing a recommendation of the Commission, this effort supports the energy policy strategy laid out in the Governor’s Virginia Energy Plan. His plan prioritizes accelerating the deployment of renewable energy, including building at least 15MW of solar on state property by the end of his administration and building a mature and thriving solar industry in Virginia.

“Diversification of our energy portfolio is good for the environment, it’s good for the economy, and it’s good for Virginians,” Attorney General Mark R. Herring was quoted as saying “The Governor and I have made it a priority to promote clean energy and Virginia state government is going to help lead the way by adding solar as an energy source.”

Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Dominion Resources Inc., the parent company of Dominion Virginia Power, was quoted as saying, “We are proud to partner with the Commonwealth in its pursuit of making Virginia a leader in clean energy technology.”

Projects will be developed through a combination of utility and private, third-party agreements and demonstrate installations ranging in size from utility-scale “solar farms” to small-scale “behind-the-meter” installations. 

The initial phase will take place in Dominion Virginia Power’s service territory through a cooperative agreement between the Commonwealth of Virginia and Dominion Virginia Power.

The Secretary of Commerce and Trade will spearhead the initiative with the Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy as the lead agency.

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