The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), within the Department of Energy (DoE) projects in its Short-Term Energy Outlook that electricity generated from utility-scale renewable plants will grow by 9 percent in 2016. That should be an exciting prospect for people who live in states other than the Commonwealth of Virginia, where we continue to lag woefully behind others in renewable energy.
How far behind? We fall behind North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi (yes, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi are ahead of Virginia), Iowa, Maryland, Delaware, Florida and a host of other states lead Virginia in terms of renewable energy production, according to the DoE.
As the DoE pointed out, “increases in renewable capacity and generation are influenced by federal, state, and local policies.”
Our state policies keep Virginia stumbling on this front. For example, nearly 20 bills that would have had a positive impact on renewable energy generation were introduced this session in Richmond, but only 2 made it past Crossover, the Assembly’s halfway mark and the date that symbolizes whether a bill will continue or die. Further, one of these two bills was altered so much that it has been left ineffective in promoting renewable energy growth.
Virginia Continues to Push for a Renewable Energy Future
As we have said many times, Virginia can no longer afford to sit on the sideline as opportunities to create cheaper and more secure energy pass us by. Unfortunately, that is happening in 2016 as bills – including SB 779 and HB 1285 and HB 1286, have been shelved and sent to working groups out of session.
This means that our work will not end in mid-March, but, rather, will continue throughout the year. We all need to continue to push for a better energy mix in Virginia and show our support of renewable energy to spur the state economy, create jobs and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.