Virginia Accelerates Boldly Forward Into Clean Energy Future

Virginia is long known as the birthplace of a nation and as the home base for the United States Navy’s Atlantic Fleet and next for its high insolation rates. Now, it is shifting its solar industry into high gear after Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order (E.O.) Number. 43, which includes several new, achievable solar goals for the Commonwealth.

The E.O. requires that 30% of Virginia’s electrical system be powered by renewable energy sources on the way to 100% carbon-free production by 2050. It also mandates that 3 gigawatts of solar be under development in the next three years.

This is a big move and shows how much more mainstream solar and renewable energy is becoming. The E.O. positions the Commonwealth for continued economic and community growth, and responds to the calls and actions from its citizens, counties, school districts, leading corporations (like Amazon and Facebook) and Department of Defense facilities.

Standard Solar is pleased to be part of Virginia’s solar industry progress. In fact, we’ve grown and contributed through several roles, including solar project developer, EPC and mentoring partner to a leading source for project funding and operations. Our work and that of our partners can be seen in action across the Commonwealth–from early STEM projects in Fairfax County and Prince William County to what at the time was the largest rooftop solar array for Dominion Energy at Chesapeake’s Western Branch High School in 2016. This year we added record-setting portfolios of rooftop solar for Augusta County Public Schools and Richmond City Public Schools. 

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) most recent data (Q2 2019), Virginia is the 18th largest solar state in the U.S., with 802.75 megawatts (MW) of solar installed. Earlier this year SEIA announced its 10-year plan titled “The Solar Plus Decade”. The plan provides a pathway for the country to generate 20% of electricity by 2030 with solar. Governor Northam’s E.O. puts Virginia on this same path enabling smart generation on rooftops, carports, brownfields and repurposed parcels (preserving land for future use).

This latest E.O. expands Virginia’s previous solar legislation and sets the stage for an active 2020 legislative session. In 2018, the General Assembly passed legislation putting 5,500 MW of solar and wind “in the public interest,” which makes it easier for the State Corporation Commission, which regulates Virginia utilities, to approve solar projects.

By instituting short-term achievable targets for strengthening the Commonwealth’s in-state renewable energy generation in both 2030 and 2050, Northam positions Virginia alongside its Mid-Atlantic neighbors to lead the Solar Plus Decade.

Standard Solar is actively partnering with developers and offtakers in Virginia to continue this momentum, and we look forward to participating fully in the Commonwealth’s productive solar economy.

John Finnerty About the author
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