Virginia Governor signs renewable energy legislation

Governor Bob McDonnell signed into law a number of renewable energy bills passed by the General Assembly this session. Among the measures is his legislation to provide a US$500 tax credit for each renewable energy job created in the state; a measure establishing the Universities Clean Energy Development & Economic Stimulus Foundation; the creation of the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority; and legislation rewarding investor-owned electric utilities for using wind energy.

He also signed legislation to authorise investor-owned natural gas utilities to seek permission from regulators to implement a separate rider that will allow for recovery of certain costs associated with eligible infrastructure replacement projects; to add improvement of infrastructure such as refueling stations to the Alternative Fuels Revolving Fund; and to give authority to secure loans for the initial acquisition and installation of clean and renewable energy improvements.

“Currently, Virginia is the second largest importer of electricity in America, trailing only California,” says McDonnell, a Republican. “We need to take immediate steps to produce more energy right here, and to do so in a comprehensive manner.”

Need all sources of energy

“We need more oil, coal and natural gas, but we also need more wind, solar, biomass and nuclear production as well,” he adds.

The ceremony took place just after Virginia was given Federal approval to become the first state on the east coast to produce oil and natural gas offshore. The policy requires 20% of future revenues received by the state from offshore development to go to research and development of green and renewable energy.

“Our green job tax credit will encourage more alternative energy entrepreneurs to make Virginia their home,” he explains. “The creation of the Virginia Universities Clean Energy Development & Economic Stimulus Foundation will focus our efforts to promote green energy research and development in the state, and make our universities and colleges national leaders in this growing industry.”

Offshore wind body to benefit RPS

“With the creation of the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority, we are taking important steps to make wind energy a reality in Virginia's coastal waters,” he says. The Authority will facilitate and support development of the offshore wind industry and wind-powered electric energy facilities located off the coast, beyond the three-mile jurisdictional limit.

Another piece of legislation (HB1022) provides that an investor-owned electric utility will receive triple credit toward meeting the goals of the renewable energy portfolio standard programme for energy derived from offshore wind.