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BCSE In Action

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 6, 2016

Contact: Laura Tierney
Email: ltierney@bcse.org
Office: 202-785-0507

Climate and Energy Working Group Receives New Data on Virginia’s Energy Landscape
New Report Shows that the Commonwealth is Integrating
More Clean and Renewable Energy and Attracting Corporate Buyers

RICHMOND, VA – As Governor McAuliffe’s Executive Order 57 working group convenes today to examine ways to reduce the Commonwealth’s carbon footprint, a new report shows Virginia has the tools to do so.

Virginia’s state power mix is making the clean energy shift and keeping emissions lower than average, all while maintaining power prices below regional and national averages, finds an updated analysis from energy market research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE). The findings of the report will be presented to the working group today.

“We are seeing positive steps being taken towards a clean energy future in Virginia, a future that is rooted in a diversified energy portfolio,” commented BCSE President Lisa Jacobson. “Natural gas, with a lower emissions profile, is being increasingly used for electricity generation. Corporate procurement of renewable energy is on the rise in Virginia. And there are a lot of opportunities for significant energy savings to be realized through energy efficiency measures and programs.”

“The Commonwealth is in a good position to deepen its commitment to an economic growth pathway that further embraces a portfolio of clean energy and energy efficiency resources.”

BNEF’s report, “State Energy Fact Sheet: Virginia,” is available here. BNEF identified several recent trends that point to the transformation of the state’s energy landscape, including:

  • An increase in natural gas-fired power plants, which provided a record 39% of generation in 2015, a phenomenon driven by falling gas prices and newly built gas capacity.
  • A cleaner than average generation profile. Virginia maintains a CO2 emissions rate of .41 tons of CO2/MWh, lower than the national average of .49 tons/MWh.
  • Renewables accounted for only 5.3% of generation in 2015, nearly all from hydropower and biomass (including biogas and waste-to-energy). However, BNEF analysis shows that several renewable energy technologies are or very soon will be economically viable in Virginia.
  • Virginia has been a hotspot for corporate procurement of renewable energy, with both Amazon and Microsoft recently making contracts for new utility-scale solar projects of 80MW and 20MW, respectively.
  • Energy efficiency represents an opportunity for substantial energy savings. Compared to other states, Virginia currently ranks near last among states according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in terms of overall energy efficiency efforts; state utilities spend small fraction of electricity revenues towards achieving voluntary state efficiency goals.

“Virginia is using cleaner burning natural gas more than ever before, with 39% of its electricity coming from natural gas in 2015, and the state is well positioned to take advantage of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies,” said Colleen Regan, Head of North American Environmental Markets and Cross-sector Research at BNEF and co-author of the report. “These trends show that Virginia is making progress in its clean energy transition.”

Download the press release here.