Southwest Virginia Energy Research and Development Authority

§ 45.2-1717. (Effective until July 1, 2029) Definitions

As used in this article, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Authority" means the Southwest Virginia Energy Research and Development Authority established pursuant to this article.

"Coal mine methane" means methane gas captured and produced from an underground gob area associated with a mined-out coal seam that would otherwise escape into the atmosphere.

"Developer" means any private developer of an energy development project.

"Energy development project" means any activity that generates, produces, or stores energy, any energy efficiency system, and any supporting ancillary activities located within Southwest Virginia and includes interests in land, improvements, and ancillary facilities and research, development, commercialization, and deployment activities designated by the Authority to the nonprofit collaborative.

"Nonprofit collaborative" means a multi-site nonprofit innovative energy technology testbed established as a collaborative effort of the Department of Energy, the Authority, and the Authority's business partners to support the Authority's purpose through energy technology research, development, commercialization, and deployment.

"Southwest Virginia" means the region of the Commonwealth designated as Southwest Virginia in § 22.1-350.

"Southwest Virginia Energy Park" means the nonprofit collaborative.

2019, cc. 555, 556, § 67-1600; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387; 2023, cc. 720, 721.

§ 45.2-1718. (Effective until July 1, 2029) Southwest Virginia Energy Research and Development Authority established; purpose

The Southwest Virginia Energy Research and Development Authority is established as a political subdivision of the Commonwealth. The purposes of the Authority are to promote opportunities for energy development in Southwest Virginia, create jobs and economic activity in Southwest Virginia consistent with the Virginia Energy Plan prepared pursuant to Article 4 (§ 45.2-1710 et seq.), and position Southwest Virginia and the Commonwealth as a leader in energy workforce and energy technology research and development. The Authority may also consult with research institutions, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and stakeholders as the Authority deems appropriate. The Authority shall have only those powers enumerated in this article.

2019, cc. 555, 556, § 67-1601; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1719. (Effective until July 1, 2029) Membership; terms; vacancies; expenses

A. The Authority shall have a total membership of 11 nonlegislative citizen members appointed as follows: four members to be appointed by the Governor, four members to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates, and three members to be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules. All members of the Authority shall be citizens of the Commonwealth.

B. Except as otherwise provided in this article, all appointments shall be for terms of four years each. No member shall be eligible to serve more than two successive four-year terms. After expiration of an initial term of three years or less, two additional four-year terms may be served by such member if appointed thereto. Appointments to fill vacancies, other than by expiration of a term, shall be made for the unexpired terms. Any appointment to fill a vacancy shall be made in the same manner as the original appointment. The remainder of any term to which a member is appointed to fill a vacancy shall not constitute a term in determining the member's eligibility for reappointment.

C. The Authority shall appoint from its membership a chairman and a vice-chairman, each of whom shall serve in such capacity at the pleasure of the Authority. The chairman, or in his absence the vice-chairman, shall preside at each meeting of the Authority. The meetings of the Authority shall be held on the call of the chairman or whenever a majority of the members so request. A majority of members of the Authority serving at any one time shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

D. Members shall serve without compensation. However, all members may be reimbursed for all reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties as provided in §§ 2.2-2813 and 2.2-2825. Such expenses shall be paid from funds appropriated to the Authority by the General Assembly.

E. Members of the Authority shall be subject to the standards of conduct set forth in the State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act (§ 2.2-3100 et seq.) and may be removed from office for misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, neglect of duty, or misconduct in the manner set forth therein.

F. Except as otherwise provided in this article, members of the Authority shall be subject to the provisions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.).

2019, cc. 555, 556, § 67-1602; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1720. (Effective until July 1, 2029) Powers and duties of the Authority

In addition to the other powers and duties established under this article, the Authority has the power and duty to:

1. Adopt, use, and alter at will an official seal;

2. Make bylaws for the management and regulation of its affairs;

3. Maintain an office at any place within the Commonwealth it designates;

4. Accept, hold, and administer moneys, grants, securities, or other property transferred, given, or bequeathed to the Authority, absolutely or in trust, from any source, public or private, for the purposes for which the Authority is established;

5. Make and execute contracts and all other instruments and agreements necessary or convenient for the exercise of its powers and functions, including executing contracts and all other instruments and agreements that the Authority deems necessary with the nonprofit collaborative;

6. Employ, in its discretion, consultants, attorneys, architects, engineers, accountants, financial experts, investment bankers, superintendents, managers, and any other employees and agents necessary and fix their compensation to be payable from funds made available to the Authority;

7. Invest its funds as permitted by applicable law;

8. Receive and accept from any federal or private agency, foundation, corporation, association, or person grants, donations of money, or real or personal property for the benefit of the Authority, and receive and accept from the Commonwealth or any other state, from any municipality, county, or other political subdivision thereof, or from any other source, aid or contributions of either money, property, or other things of value, to be held, used, and applied for the purposes for which such grants and contributions may be made;

9. Enter into agreements with any department, agency, or instrumentality of the United States or of the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions and with lenders and enter into loans with contracting parties for the purpose of conducting research and development, energy project development, and planning, regulating, and providing for the financing or leasing or assisting in the financing or leasing of any project;

10. Do any lawful act necessary or appropriate to carry out the powers granted or reasonably implied in this article;

11. Leverage the strength in energy workforce and energy technology research and development of the Commonwealth's public and private institutions of higher education;

12. Support energy development projects generally, including pump storage hydropower, energy storage, hydrogen production and uses, carbon capture and storage, geothermal energy, and advanced wind and solar energy;

13. Promote energy development projects on closed power plant sites, brownfield sites, former coal mine sites, reclaimed coal mine sites, abandoned mine lands, and lands adjacent thereto;

14. Promote energy workforce development and energy supply chain development;

15. Assist energy technology research and development by, among other actions, promoting the development of a Southwest Virginia Energy Park;

16. Identify and work with the Commonwealth's industries and nonprofit partners and, through mutually agreed collaborations, the Commonwealth's research and development partners, in advancing efforts related to energy development in Southwest Virginia; and

17. Promote the capture and beneficial use of coal mine methane from active, inactive, and abandoned coal mines as a low-carbon intensity feedstock for manufacturing and energy generation projects located in Southwest Virginia.

2019, cc. 555, 556, § 67-1603; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387; 2023, cc. 720, 721.

§ 45.2-1721. (Effective until July 1, 2029) Annual report

On or before October 15 of each year, beginning in 2020, the Authority shall submit an annual summary of its activities and recommendations to the Governor and the Chairmen of the House Committee on Appropriations, the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations, the House Committee on Labor and Commerce, and the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor.

2019, cc. 555, 556, § 67-1604; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1722. (Effective until July 1, 2029) Confidentiality of information

A. The Authority shall hold in confidence the personal and financial information supplied to it or maintained by it concerning the siting and development of energy projects.

B. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the Authority, in its discretion, from releasing any information that has been transformed into a statistical or aggregate form that does not allow the identification of the person who supplied particular information.

C. Information supplied by or maintained on any person or entity applying for or receiving an allocation of any federal loan guarantee, as well as specific information relating to the amount of, or the identity of the recipient of, such distribution, shall be subject to disclosure in accordance with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.).

2019, cc. 555, 556, § 67-1605; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1723. (Effective until July 1, 2029) Declaration of public purpose; exemption from taxation

A. The exercise of the powers granted by this article shall be in all respects for the benefit of the citizens of the Commonwealth and for the promotion of their welfare, convenience, and prosperity.

B. The Authority shall be deemed to be performing an essential governmental function in the exercise of the powers conferred upon it by this article, and the property of the Authority and its income and operations shall be exempt from taxation or assessments upon any property acquired or used by the Authority under the provisions of this article.

2019, cc. 555, 556, § 67-1606; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1724. (Effective until July 1, 2029) Sunset

The provisions of this article shall expire on July 1, 2029.

2019, cc. 555, 556, § 67-1607; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.