Virginia governor signs omnibus energy bill into law

Source: By Kevin Randolph, Energy Insider • Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2018

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam recently signed a bill in Richmond, Virginia, that will encourage solar and wind development in the state, initiate a grid modernization effort and end the freeze on energy utility rates and refunds to customers.

“Today I signed legislation ending the freeze on energy utility rates, returning money to customers, and investing in clean energy and a modern grid,” Northam said in a tweet. “I am proud that my team and I improved this bill significantly and thank the General Assembly for its continued work on the measure.”

The law, SB 966, designates 5.5 gigawatts (GW) of solar and wind energy as in the public interest. Virginia currently has 291 megawatts (MW) of installed solar capacity installed, making it the 20th largest solar state.

“The solar industry commends Governor Northam’s leadership in convening stakeholders around Virginia’s energy future,” Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said. “Designating 5.5 gigawatts of clean energy to be in the public interest is a great first step to help Virginia spur solar development and catch up with neighboring states which are already clean energy leaders.”

The measure also ends the rate freeze on utility rates enacted in 2015 that gave energy companies an exemption from regular base rate reviews by the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), which can result in refunds to customers if companies earn profits above their predetermined levels.