Governor Ralph Northam is more than likely to sign off on the bills - given that he was their instigator.
While it still needs a signature from Governor Ralph Northam, the US Commonwealth of Virginia’s bicameral lawmaking body has finally passed a version of a recent clean energy - and economy - bill that has proven acceptable to both sides of the house.
The finalised, much-amended bill can be viewed here, setting out the technical and policy conditions by which Virginia can reach Governor Northam’s proposed goal of 100% renewables by 2050. This includes peak shaving programmes; support for rooftop solar and for wind energy; coal phase-out mandates for utilities Dominion Energy and American Electric Power, which have held sway in the energy mix until now; and a 3,100MW energy storage deployment target by 2035 (with 2,700MW for Dominion and 400MW for AEP).
The core element of the bill is that it replaces existing voluntary renewable portfolio standards (RPS) for utilities with mandatory ownership or power purchase arrangements. In addition to compliance with energy efficiency programmes, the finally passed bill orders utilities to procure between 5,000MW and 16,100MW of solar PV generation, ranging from commercial rooftop systems from 50kW capacity and up to 100MW. Utilities are also ordered to own or operate up to 5,000MW of offshore wind generation.
The bill also includes protection policies for low-income families, as well as low-interest loans for flood defences in applicable communities.
Andrew Williams, senior director of regulatory affairs and market development at Sol Systems, a US-based solar energy finance, development and investment company, sent a statement to PV Tech that said that Virginia could “catapult” forward as a “clean energy leader by mandating a renewable energy portfolio standard that sets a clear path to meet [Governor Northam’s] goal of reaching a 100% clean energy power sector by mid-century”.
“Once signed into law, the Act will create thousands of jobs and help ensure communities across the Commonwealth have access to and benefit from solar energy and will help ensure that billions of new dollars will be invested in the Commonwealth,” Sol Systems Andrew Williams said.
The US Energy Storage Association’s policy director Jason Burwen meanwhile tweeted on Friday his excitement that the bill’s energy storage target is larger than either California’s or New York’s (albeit with a slightly longer timeframe) and includes a mandatory 10%-plus of customer-sited storage systems and 35%-plus of competitively provided energy storage.
The prospects and challenges of solar's new era in the US will take centre stage at Large Scale Solar USA 2020 (Austin, Texas, on 23-24 June 2020).
Jan 20, 2021 GMT
Virtually all PV modules for large-scale utility-based solar sites are imported to the US, especially from Chinese companies using manufacturing sites across Southeast Asia. This puts extreme pressure on US site developers, EPCs and investors, in understanding fully the differences between the companies offering imported PV modules How credible are the companies supplying the products? What is the financial health of the parent entity? Where is the module produced, and is this undertaken in-house or through third-party OEMs? What is the supply-chain for the module sub-components including wafers and cells? And then, how will the modules perform in the field, and is it possible to gauge reliability levels benchmarked against competitors? This webinar will provide insights from two of the leading experts in PV module manufacturing, supply, performance and reliability: Jenya Meydbray of PV Evolution Labs and Finlay Colville from PV-Tech. The 1-hour session will include presentations from Jenya and Finlay, and then a brand-new supplier scorecard matrix that combines the key outputs from PVEL's Module Reliability Scorecard and PV-Tech's PV ModuleTech Bankability Ratings, with specific focus on module supply and use in the US market.