Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 56. Public Service Companies
Chapter 23. Virginia Electric Utility Regulation Act
3/4/2021

§ 56-586.1. Electric energy emergencies.

A. As used in this section, "electric energy emergency" means an unplanned interruption in the generation or transmission of electricity resulting from a hurricane, ice storm, windstorm, earthquake or similar natural phenomena, or from a criminal act affecting such generation or transmission, act of war or act of terrorism, which interruption is (i) of such severity that minimum levels of reliable service cannot be maintained using resources practicably obtainable from the market and (ii) so imminently and substantially threatening to the health, safety or welfare of residents of this Commonwealth that immediate action of state government is necessary to prevent loss of life, protect the public health or safety, and prevent unnecessary or avoidable damage to property.

B. The Governor is authorized, after finding that an electric energy emergency exists and that appropriate federal and state agencies and appropriate reliability councils cannot adequately address such emergency, to declare an electric energy emergency by filing a written declaration with the Secretary of the Commonwealth. The declaration shall state the counties and cities or utility service areas of the Commonwealth in which the declaration is applicable, or its statewide application. A declared electric energy emergency shall go into immediate effect upon filing and continue in effect for the period prescribed in the declaration, but not more than thirty days. At the end of the prescribed period, the Governor may issue another declaration extending the emergency. The Governor shall terminate such declaration as soon as the basis for such declaration no longer exists.

C. During a declared electric energy emergency, the Governor is authorized, in compliance with guidelines of the Department of Emergency Services promulgated as provided in subsection G, to require any generator or any municipal electric utility that is capable of generating but (i) is not generating or (ii) is not generating at its full potential during such declared electric emergency, to generate, dispatch or sell electricity from a facility that it operates within the Commonwealth, to the Commonwealth for distribution within the areas of the Commonwealth designated in the declaration. The quantity of electricity required to be generated, dispatched or sold, and the duration of such requirements, shall be as determined by the Governor to be necessary to alleviate the electric energy emergency hardship. The Commonwealth shall compensate an entity required to generate, dispatch, or sell electricity pursuant to this subsection, and the operator of any transmission facilities over which the electricity is transmitted, in the manner provided in § 56-522, mutatis mutandis, unless otherwise provided by federal law. The Department of Environmental Quality, the State Air Pollution Control Board, the State Water Control Board, and the Virginia Waste Management Board shall issue any temporary or emergency permit, order, or variance necessary to authorize any permit amendments or other changes needed to meet the requirements imposed under this section and the Governor may petition the President to declare a regional energy emergency under 42 U.S.C. § 7410 (f) as necessary to suspend enforcement of any provision of the federal Clean Air Act. Any increased operation required during such declared emergency shall not be counted towards the number of hours of operation allowed during the year. No civil charges or penalties shall be imposed for any violation that occurs as a result of actions taken that are necessary for the required generation, dispatch or sale during the declared electric energy emergency. The foregoing provisions shall apply to all actions the entity takes in connection with such required generation, dispatch or sale during the period of the declared emergency.

D. During a declared electric energy emergency, the Governor may use the services, equipment, supplies, and facilities of existing departments, offices, and agencies of the Commonwealth, and of the political subdivisions thereof, to the maximum extent practicable and necessary to meet the electric energy emergency. The officers and personnel of all such departments, offices, and agencies shall cooperate with and extend such services and facilities to the Governor upon request.

E. During a declared electric energy emergency, the Governor is authorized to request the Secretary of the United States Department of Energy to invoke section 202(C) of the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. § 824a (1935).

F. The General Assembly is authorized by joint resolution to terminate any declaration of an electric energy emergency. The emergency shall be terminated at the time of filing of the joint resolution with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

G. The Department of Emergency Services, in consultation with the Commission and the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, shall establish guidelines for the implementation of the Governor's powers pursuant to subsection C that protect the public health and safety and prevent unnecessary or avoidable damage to property with a minimum of economic disruption to generators, transmitters and distributors of electricity. Such guidelines shall:

1. Define various foreseeable levels of electric energy emergencies and specify appropriate measures to be taken for each type of electric energy emergency as necessary to protect the public health or safety or prevent unnecessary or avoidable damage to property;

2. Prescribe appropriate response measures for each level of electric energy emergency; and

3. Equitably distribute the burdens and benefits resulting from the implementation of this section among other members of the affected class of persons within all geographic regions of the Commonwealth.

H. During a declared electric energy emergency, the attorney general may bring an action for injunctive or other appropriate relief in the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond to secure prompt compliance. The court may issue an ex parte temporary order without notice that shall enforce the prohibitions, restrictions or actions that are necessary to secure compliance with the guideline, order or declaration.

I. During a declared electric energy emergency, no person shall intentionally violate any guideline adopted or declaration issued pursuant to this section. Any person who violates this section is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

2002, c. 609.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.