Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 45.2. Mines, Minerals, and Energy
Chapter 17. Other Sources of Energy Generally; Energy Policy
10/22/2021

Article 3. Energy Policy of the Commonwealth.

§ 45.2-1705. (Effective October 1, 2021) Legislative findings.

The General Assembly hereby finds that:

1. Energy is essential to the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the Commonwealth and to the Commonwealth's economy;

2. The government of the Commonwealth should facilitate the availability and delivery of reliable and adequate supplies of energy to industrial, commercial, and residential users at reasonable costs so that such users and the Commonwealth's economy are able to be productive;

3. The Commonwealth would benefit from articulating clear objectives pertaining to energy issues, adopting an energy policy that advances such objectives, and establishing a procedure for measuring the implementation of such policy;

4. Climate change is an urgent and pressing challenge for the Commonwealth. Swift decarbonization and a transition to clean energy are required to meet the urgency of the challenge; and

5. The Commonwealth will benefit from being a leader in deploying a low-carbon energy economy.

2006, c. 939, § 67-100; 2020, cc. 1191, 1192; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-1706. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 327, cl. 2, effective July 1, 2021.

§ 45.2-1706.1. (Effective October 1, 2021) Commonwealth Clean Energy Policy.

A. The Commonwealth recognizes that effectively addressing climate change and enhancing resilience will advance the health, welfare, and safety of the residents of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth further recognizes that addressing climate change requires reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the Commonwealth's economy sufficient to reach net-zero emission by 2045 in all sectors, including the electric power, transportation, industrial, agricultural, building, and infrastructure sectors. To achieve these objectives, it shall be the policy of the Commonwealth to:

1. Develop energy resources necessary to produce 30 percent of Virginia's electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030 and 100 percent of Virginia's electricity from carbon-free sources by 2040;

2. Enable widespread integration of distributed energy resources, including energy storage and rooftop solar, into the grid to achieve decarbonization and to enhance resilience;

3. Support the distributed generation of renewable electricity by:

a. Encouraging private sector investments in distributed renewable energy;

b. Increasing the security of the electricity grid by supporting distributed renewable energy projects and energy storage with the potential to supply electric energy to critical facilities during a widespread power outage; and

c. Enhancing the ability of private property owners to generate their own renewable energy for their own personal use from renewable energy sources on their property;

4. Lead by example in state government by supporting the carbon-free energy resources required to fully decarbonize the electric power supply of the Commonwealth, including deploying 30 percent renewables by 2030, realizing 100 percent carbon-free electric power by 2040, and achieving net zero emissions by 2045;

5. Maximize energy efficiency programs as defined in § 56-576, to the extent determined to be in the public interest, that are the lowest-cost energy option to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in order to produce electricity cost savings and to create jobs and economic opportunity from the energy efficiency sector;

6. Support net-zero emission targets by promoting zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure, including electrified transport, decreasing the carbon intensity of the transportation sector, encouraging alternative transportation options, and increasing the efficiency of motor vehicles operating on Virginia's roads;

7. Support electric distribution grid transformation projects as defined in § 56-576;

8. Promote building and construction practices that reduce emissions associated with built environment, including energy efficiency targets, new building standards, and transit-oriented and other sustainable development practices; and

9. Ensure that energy development projects avoid, minimize, and, if necessary, mitigate damage to the Commonwealth's natural and cultural resources.

B. The Commonwealth recognizes the need to promote environmental justice and ensure that it is carried out throughout the Commonwealth, as provided in § 2.2-235, and the need to address and prevent energy inequities in historically economically disadvantaged communities, as defined in § 56-576. To achieve these objectives, it shall be the policy of the Commonwealth to:

1. Recognize the disproportionate and inequitable impacts of climate change on historically economically disadvantaged communities and prioritize solutions and investment in these communities to maximize the benefits of clean energy and minimize the burdens of climate change;

2. Ensure the fair treatment and meaningful involvement, as those terms are defined in § 2.2-234, of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, faith, disability, or income with respect to the administration of energy laws, regulations, and policies; and

3. Increase access to clean energy and the benefits from clean energy to historically economically disadvantaged communities.

C. As Virginia transforms its energy economy, the Commonwealth must continue to prioritize economic competiveness and workforce development in an equitable manner. To achieve this objective, it shall be the policy of the Commonwealth to:

1. Equitably incorporate requirements for technical, policy, and economic analyses and assessments that recognize the unique attributes of different energy resources and delivery systems to identify pathways to net-zero carbon that maximize Virginia's energy reliability and resilience, economic development, and jobs;

2. Require that pathways to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions be determined on the basis of technical, policy, and economic analysis to maximize their effectiveness, optimize Virginia's economic development, support industrial employment, and create quality jobs while minimizing adverse impacts on public health, affected communities, and the environment;

3. Ensure an adequate energy supply and a Virginia-based energy production capacity, while also optimizing intrastate and interstate use of energy supply and delivery to maximize energy availability, reliability, and price opportunities to the benefit of all user classes and the Commonwealth's economy;

4. Increase wind energy development and grow the Commonwealth's role as a wind industry hub for offshore wind generation projects in state and federal waters off the United States coast;

5. Ensure the availability of reliable energy at costs that are reasonable and in quantities that will support the Commonwealth's economy;

6. Ensure reliable energy availability in the event of a disruption occurring to a portion of the Commonwealth's energy matrix and to address the needs of businesses during the transition to clean energy;

7. Minimize the Commonwealth's long-term exposure to volatility and increases in world energy prices by expanding the use of innovative clean energy technology within the Commonwealth;

8. Create training opportunities and green career pathways for local workers and workers in historically economically disadvantaged communities in onshore and offshore wind, solar energy, electrification, energy efficiency, clean transportation, and other emerging clean energy industries;

9. Support the repurposing and development of clean energy resources on previously developed project sites as defined in § 56-576;

10. Ensure that decision making is transparent and includes opportunities for full participation by the public;

11. Explore approaches to maximizing and leveraging the capacity of lands and waters in the Commonwealth to store energy; and

12. Increase the Commonwealth's reliance on and production of sustainably produced biofuels made from traditional agricultural crops and other feedstocks, such as winter cover crops, warm season grasses, fast-growing trees, algae, or other suitable feedstocks grown in the Commonwealth, that will (i) create jobs and income, (ii) produce clean-burning fuels that will help to improve air quality, and (iii) provide the new markets for Virginia's silvicultural and agricultural products needed to preserve farm employment, conserve farmland and forestland, and increase implementation of silvicultural and agricultural best management practices to protect water quality.

D. The elements of the policy set forth in subsections A, B, and C shall be referred to collectively in this title as the Commonwealth Clean Energy Policy.

E. All agencies and political subdivisions of the Commonwealth, in taking discretionary action with regard to energy issues, shall recognize the elements of the Commonwealth Clean Energy Policy and, where appropriate, shall act in a manner consistent therewith.

F. The Commonwealth Clean Energy Policy is intended to provide guidance to the agencies and political subdivisions of the Commonwealth in taking discretionary action with regard to energy issues and shall not be construed to amend, repeal, or override any contrary provision of applicable law. Nothing in this section shall preclude reliable access to electricity and natural gas during the transition to renewable energy. The failure or refusal of any person to recognize the elements of the Commonwealth Clean Energy Policy, to act in a manner consistent with the Commonwealth Clean Energy Policy, or to take any other action whatsoever shall not create any right, action, or cause of action or provide standing for any person to challenge the action of the Commonwealth or any of its agencies or political subdivisions.

2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 326, 327.

§ 45.2-1707. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 327, cl. 2, effective July 1, 2021.

§ 45.2-1708. (Effective October 1, 2021) Role of local governments in achieving objectives of the Commonwealth Clean Energy Policy.

A. In the development of any local ordinance addressing the siting of renewable energy facilities that generate electricity from wind or solar resources, such ordinance shall:

1. Be consistent with the provisions of the Commonwealth Clean Energy Policy pursuant to subsection E of § 45.2-1706.1;

2. Provide reasonable criteria to be addressed in the siting of any renewable energy facility that generates electricity from wind or solar resources. Such criteria shall provide for the protection of the locality in a manner consistent with the goals of the Commonwealth to promote the generation of energy from wind and solar resources; and

3. Include provisions establishing reasonable requirements upon the siting of any such renewable energy facility, including provisions limiting noise, requiring buffer areas and setbacks, and addressing generation facility decommissioning.

B. Any measures required by an ordinance adopted pursuant to subsection A shall be consistent with the locality's existing ordinances.

2011, c. 750, § 67-103; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 327, 387.

§ 45.2-1709. (Effective October 1, 2021) Nuclear energy; considered a clean energy source.

For the purposes of the Commonwealth Clean Energy Policy as set out in § 45.2-1706.1, in any clean energy initiative or carbon-free energy initiative undertaken, overseen, regulated, or permitted by the Department, nuclear energy shall be considered to be a clean energy source.

2020, c. 960, § 67-104; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 327, 387.