An update to the state’s energy plan was required by the Virginia Clean Economy Act that was passed in 2020 by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly and signed into law by the then government. Ralph Northam (D). As envisioned at the time, the update will describe how the country will continue to take steps to eliminate its dependence on fossil fuels.
But Youngkin used the update to argue that the legislation puts Virginia at a competitive disadvantage with other states, and said the mandatory transition would increase energy costs for consumers. So his report instead lays out proposals to lower energy costs and slow the transition to renewables like wind and solar.
This includes an “all of the above” approach — continuing to rely on natural gas as mature alternative sources and building “the world’s leading nuclear power center here in Virginia,” Yongkin said. As an essential part, he called for a “moon shot” effort to develop a commercial small modular reactor in southwest Virginia for the next ten years.
The technology for these reactors is still under development worldwide. Building a commercially viable unit in Virginia “is more of a snapshot of Mars than a snapshot of the moon,” said Albert Pollard, an energy attorney and former Democratic state delegate.
Most of Yongkin’s prescriptions require action by the General Assembly, so his energy plan – which was developed after a period of public comment over the summer – is mostly a policy model that will generate legislation in next year’s session.
With Democrats in control of the state Senate, the prospect of a fundamental change to Virginia’s Clean Economy Act looks bleak.
Senator Scott Soroville (D-Fairfax) noted in a tweet Monday that one factor Lego Corp cited earlier this year in deciding to place its US manufacturing facility in Chesterfield County was Virginia’s ambitious zero-carbon energy goal.
“Youngkin for President will single-handedly destroy the business climate in VA in his eagerness to make headlines,” Surovell chirpreferring to Yongkin’s supposed ambition for national office.
Ceres, a nonprofit environmental group that represents a network of big companies such as Capital One, Target, Ford and Amazon, has endorsed Virginia’s Clean Economy Act and said Yongkin’s plan is insufficient. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.
“Ceres would like to see a focus on proven, cost-effective clean energy investments, such as solar and wind energy, in an effort to reliably and affordably meet the state’s energy needs and core VCEA goals,” said Allie Gould Roberts, Senior Director of Policy State in Ceres via email.
Eight companies Ceres – including Nestlé, Mars and Siemens – have had Youngkin كتب Books Last month to reaffirm their support for VCEA as well as Virginia’s adoption of California clean car standards and its membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Yongkin said Monday that he would support legislation to remove Virginia from California standards, which seeks to phase out new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035. Yongkin is also Seeking to remove the state from RGGIwhich is a multi-state market for carbon trading, because it is believed to raise prices for consumers.
Democrats are arguing that the Governor had no authority to withdraw from RGGI because membership was called for in state law. The Yongkin administration says the law authorizes membership but does not require it.
At least one aspect of Yongkin’s plan has seen bipartisan support in previous assembly sessions: restoring full authority to the state corporation’s commission to review rates charged by the state’s largest public utilities, Dominion Energy, and Appalachian Power Corporation.
Actions by the General Assembly over the past several years have constrained the regulator’s traditional ability to limit price increases and demand rebates from consumers. A small group of bipartisan lawmakers attempted to repeal these restrictions, but failed in the face of the facilities’ enormous political impact.