The Old Dominion State Has Begun The Move Toward Clean, Green Energy Future

State Economy

The population of the “Old Dominion State”, Virginia is approximately 8.60 million people[1]. Virginia is the 12th most populated state in the United States.

In 2020, Virginia’s economy was ranked 13th in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP)[2]. The state’s economy is dependent on the biotechnology, communication technology, software, agriculture, forestry, fishing, and tourism industries[3].

Environment Policies

In 2010, the Virginia General Assembly created the Virginia Offshore Wind Energy Development Authority to support the development of the offshore wind industry.

In 2018, Virginia Governor Northam released a strategic energy plan to modernize the electric grid and set goals for renewable energy generation, energy efficiency and electric vehicles.

In 2020, Virginia enacted a mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard, requiring all utilities to sell 100% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2050[4].

In 2020, Virginia joined Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont in a market-based collaborative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In June 2021, Virginia’s utilities used natural gas (60.0 %), nuclear energy (29.6 %), renewable energy (8.7 %), and coal (1.7 %) to generate electricity[5]. Hydropower, biomass, and solar are the primary types of renewable energy in Virginia.

In June 2021, the average cost of residential electricity in the state was 12.59 ¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 13.85 ¢ per kWh.

Recent renewable energy developments in Virginia include:

  • 2,640 MW Offshore Wind Project – American power company, Dominion Energy is continuing work on second phase of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project at a site approximately 30 miles off the coastal town of Virginia Beach, Virginia. The offshore wind project is scheduled to be commissioned in 2026.
  • 1,000 MW Solar + Energy Storage Projects – In September 2021, Dominion request approval from the Virginia State Corporation Commission to commence construction on 15 new solar and energy storage projects across the state. The projects are forecast to be completed by year-end 2022.
  • 498 MW Solar Projects – Dominion Energy is continuing to complete nine utility scale solar projects across the state. All the projects are forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2022.
  • 12 MW Offshore Wind Project – In July 2020, Dominion Energy commissioned the first phase of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project. The offshore wind project is located approximately 27 miles off the coastal town of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Conclusion

Coal was first commercially mined in Virginia[6] in 1748. In 2019, Virginia produced 12.3 million tons of bituminous coal from 20 underground and 33 surface mines[7].

In 2010, 36.8 % of Virginia’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants[8]. In 2021, 1.7 % of the state’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants. Why the dramatic decrease ?

  1. Pollution – Coal ash, the product of coal burned in a power plant contains arsenic, mercury, and lead; which are toxic. In 2019, coal ash was documented to have leaked into the ground water around 241 coal-fired plants in America[9].
  2. EconomicsThe cost to generate electricity from coal is more than double the cost to generate electricity from renewables, like solar or wind.
  3. Climate Change Coal generates 40% to 45% more greenhouse gases than natural gas.

Virginia implemented new policies to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by dramatically reducing the use of coal, implementing a program to develop offshore wind over a decade ago, and now mandating that all electric utilities will only use renewable energy by 2050.

The Old Dominion State has begun the move toward clean, green energy future.

 

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”
www.jackkerfoot.com

 

[1] Virginia Population 2021, World Population Review

[2] U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis

[3] Biggest Industries in Virginia – World Atlas

[4] National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, January 4, 2021

[5] U.S. Energy Information Agency – Virginia State Profile and Energy Estimates

[6] Virginia Geological Survey – Coal Mining History, .

[7] U.S. Energy Information Agency, Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, 2019 and 2018

[8] U.S. Energy Information Agency, Virginia Electric Power Consumption Estimates 1960 – 2018

[9] Reuters, “Coal Ash Contaminates Groundwater Near Most U.S. Coal Plants: Study” by Valerie Volcovici, 3/3/2019

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