A Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires utilities in the state to eventually source at least a certain percentage of their electricity from clean, renewable sources like solar panels. If they do not meet the standards for renewable energy generation, the utilities must pay fees to the state. Utilities in strong RPS states typically offer solar incentives to homeowners because it is cheaper than paying these fees.
We’re pleased to report that Virginia has finally passed a legitimate RPS, and it’s as good as the top five in the nation. Virginia will require all its utility companies to source 100% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2050. There’s also a specific minimum solar carve out of 2,000 MW by 2030. That is a huge deal, and a move that will surely create some needed momentum for the local solar industry.
This was not an easy bill to pass, as Republican senators argued the move to 100% renewables would increase electricity prices for those in less populous areas of the state dependent on coal.
Before this law passed, Virginia simply progressed under a voluntary RPS first passed in 2007. The voluntary goal was set at 15% (of 2007’s generation) renewable energy by 2025. That included intermediary goals of 7% renewables by 2016, and 12% renewables by 2022.
As with most other states with voluntary targets for compliance, the bar was never set very high and not much movement was made by utility companies to transition its infrastructure more swiftly to a cleaner trajectory.
Mandatory RPS requirements, like the one Virginia legislators just enacted, are much more effective than voluntary targets in promoting incentives for solar power. Virginia’s RPS is critical to strong renewable energy policy. It’s one of the key criteria for our home solar power rankings across the country.
Indeed, the Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Urban and Regional Analysis found this move will probably create near 30,000 local solar jobs and generate over $4 billion in investment by 2030. Kudos to all Virginians, we’re looking forward to a more robust home solar energy market here.
Last modified: February 13, 2020