By Karen Schaufeld
Many of us want more renewable energy available to consumers and ratepayers as quickly as possible here in Virginia, but our state policies need to be updated to make that possible. Across the country, “the U.S. electric sector is in the midst of an unprecedented shift toward clean energy resources,” according to an analyst from the nonprofit sustainability advocacy organization Ceres, who added that “state policies are critical for continued progress in achieving national and international climate goals.”
We are making some headway in the Commonwealth. In fact, Dominion recently won approval from the State Corporation Commission for three new solar farms in Powhatan, Louisa and Isle of Wight counties. With these, Dominion will add 56 megawatts of potential generation that are expected to produce about 124 gigawatts of electricity annually, according to reports.
This is a good first step toward the 400 megawatts of solar power that Dominion has committed to generate by 2020. However, Ceres ranks Dominion 24th of the 30 largest electric utilities in terms of “advances in renewable energy and efficiency.”
In its 2016 Benchmarking Utility Clean Energy analysis, Ceres reports that many of the nation’s largest electric utilities are moving toward lower carbon fuel sources. They determine that the key drivers are “ambitious state policies and strong corporate demand for renewable energy.”
Utilities with the strongest results were in states with strong clean energy policies, such as Colorado, Minnesota, Massachusetts and California. According to an author of the report, “Governments, corporations and individual customers continue to demand clean, efficient energy and some utilities are answering that call.”
We need Dominion to step up even more and start answering the call for solar and other clean, efficient energy sources for Virginia. To get there, we need our Senators and Delegates to demand that Dominion include even more renewable energy options in its offerings in the Commonwealth.
See the Ceres chart for the breakdown of the top 30 utilities: