Green New Deal Act; fossil fuel projects moratorium, clean energy mandates, civil penalties. (HB77)

Introduced By

Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) with support from co-patron Del. Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church)

Progress

Introduced
Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law

Description

Fossil fuel projects moratorium; clean energy mandates; civil penalties; Green New Deal Act. Establishes a moratorium, effective January 1, 2021, on approval by any state agency or political subdivision of any approval required for (i) electric generating facilities that generate fossil fuel energy through the combustion of a fossil fuel resource; (ii) import or export terminals for fossil fuel resources; (iii) certain maintenance activities relating to an import or export terminal for a fossil fuel resource; (iv) gathering lines or pipelines for the transport of any fossil fuel resource that requires the use of eminent domain on private property; (v) certain maintenance activities relating to such gathering lines or pipelines; (vi) refineries of a fossil fuel resource; and (vii) exploration for any type of fossil fuel, unless preempted by applicable federal law. The measure also requires that at least 80 percent of the electricity sold by a retail electric supplier in calendar years 2028 through 2035 be generated from clean energy resources. In calendar year 2036 and every calendar year thereafter, 100 percent of the electricity sold by a retail electric supplier is required to be generated from clean energy resources. The clean energy mandates apply to a public utility or other person that sells not less than 1,000 megawatt hours of electric energy to retail customers or generates not less than 1,000 megawatt hours of electric energy for use by the person. The Director of the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy is authorized to bring actions for injunctions to enforce these requirements. The measure requires the Department to adopt a Climate Action Plan that addresses all aspects of climate change, including mitigation, adaptation, resiliency, and assistance in the transition from current energy sources to clean renewable energy. The measure provides that residents of the Commonwealth and organizations shall have the legal standing to sue to ensure that its provisions and any Climate Action Plan are enforced. The measure requires (a) a 36 percent reduction in electric energy consumption in buildings by 2035, (b) the establishment of job training programs and energy worker protections, (c) transitional assistance for workers in the fossil fuel industry and affected communities, and (d) environmental justice protections. The measure provides that any retail electric supplier that fails to meet any goal or benchmark is liable for a civil penalty equal to twice the cost of the financial investment necessary to meet such goal or mandate that was not achieved, or three times the cost of the financial investment necessary to meet such goal or benchmark that was not achieved if not met in an environmental justice community, defined in the bill. Read the Bill »

Outcome

Bill Has Failed

History

DateAction
12/06/2019Committee
12/06/2019Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/08/20 20102438D
12/06/2019Referred to Committee on Labor and Commerce
01/28/2020Assigned L & C sub: Subcommittee #3
02/04/2020Subcommittee recommends reporting (6-Y 4-N)
02/04/2020Subcommittee recommends referring to Committee on Appropriations
02/05/2020Impact statement from DPB (HB77)
02/06/2020Reported from Labor and Commerce (13-Y 9-N) (see vote tally)
02/06/2020Referred to Committee on Appropriations
02/11/2020Left in Appropriations

Comments

Allen F writes:

Thank you, Delegate Rasoul, for having the courage and political will to put Virginia on a path towards substantive, emergency-level action on the climate crisis. God Bless you and God Bless this Commonwealth.

Bill Peabody writes:

Business people considering moving to Virginia would find bill this bill cringeworthy.
How about promoting nuclear instead of vague green schemes.

Susan B Sperlik writes:

THIS IS INSANE. You think you can just deprive people of fossil fuels in fifteen years? Have you ever considered letting the technology develop before forcing this inefficient garbage on everyone? You think we won't want to be able to operate our classic cars? How do you think people are going to be able to afford their power bills? We are sick of your climate hoaxes and your fascist policies. People are not going to put up with this crap. You are going to be hearing a lot more about this. I recommend withdrawing this legislation.

Avril Garland writes:

To Bill Peabody: What "vague green schemes" are you referring to? Please specify.

Mike writes:

The reality is alternative renewable energy does not provide enough electricity to meet demand. A current plan for the states largest solar farm would require over 6,000 acres of land to be cleared and only generates 500 megawatts. Additionally, the average lifespan of a solar panel is only around 10 years.

If we want SUSTAINABLE energy production without carbon emissions, then we have to embrace nuclear power. A single nuclear plant like Surry only requires 840 acres and produces 1.6 gigawatts. In other words, it requires only 14% of the land and generates 3 times more electricity.

We can't eliminate fossil fuels without being realistic about how we replace it.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

the average lifespan of a solar panel is only around 10 years

That’s not even a little bit true. Solar panel lifespans aren't even measured like that. Their efficiently falls off over time, rather than having their lifespan “end.” Solar panels generally have a guarantee that they won’t lose but a small percentage of their performance over 20–25 years. Not 10.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

A current plan for the states largest solar farm would require over 6,000 acres of land to be cleared and only generates 500 megawatts.

Does it? Because that doesn't seem plausible. According to the U.S. National Renewalable Energy Laboratory's "Land-Use Requirements for Solar Power Plants in the United States" (2013), modern solar farms require, on average, 6.1 acres per megawatt. So a 500 megawatt solar farm would require just 81 acres, not 6,000.

Nuclear is great, we need more nuclear, etc., etc., but your facts about solar are badly in need of citations.

Jeff T. Walker writes:

HB77 is a comprehensive plan to alter our energy economy for the better. It's worthy of support at Committee and lobbying our Delegates.Green Energy incorporates small and mid sized businesses in the process of altering the production, distribution and use of energy in Virginia. The means to improve the competitive business environment include directing the SCC which regulates monopolies with guidance from the General Assembly; as do other public entities which formulate and adopt the building codes. These regulatory processes have a history of being controlled by entities which have interests in conflict with the long term goals of Virginia.
The bill anticipates changes which shall require training of expanded work-force to build and maintain the New Grid, especially in regions of the Commonwealth with land, labor, and economic opportunities requiring encouragement to support electrical production while reducing combustion of carbon.

Mike writes:

So a 500 megawatt solar farm would require just 81 acres, not 6,000

There is no way. "Dominion calculates that on average, 8,000 acres of cleared land are required for the solar panels that generate 1,000MW". http://www.virginiaplaces.org/energy/solar.html (additional citations included in this link).

One of the worlds largest solar farms, Kamuthi Solar Power, produces around 600 MW and sits on 2,500 acres (of which it's in an area which benefits from more peak sun-hours than the mid-Atlantic region).

That’s not even a little bit true. Solar panel lifespans aren't even measured like that. Their efficiently falls off over time, rather than having their lifespan “end.” Solar panels generally have a guarantee that they won’t lose but a small percentage of their performance over 20–25 years. Not 10.

The newest, most expensive panels last 25 years, you are correct. Many already in service, or more affordable for homeowners, are not warrantied beyond 10 years. Obviously newer projects will have the improved lifespan, but regardless the majority of your insanely expensive mega-farm infrastructure will inevitably require complete replacement. This doesn't even include the outrageously expensive battery banks that have to be replaced even more frequently.

Again, the only pragmatic way to reduce fossil fuels within a short period of time is to embrace nuclear power.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

There is no way. "Dominion calculates that on average, 8,000 acres of cleared land are required for the solar panels that generate 1,000MW". http://www.virginiaplaces.org/energy/solar.html (additional citations included in this link).

Yeah, I have no idea what that random dude's website is, but I'm gonna go ahead and trust the U.S. Department of Energy instead.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Likewise, NREL is performing extensive research on solar panel lifetimes. It is not "the newest, most expensive panels" that last 25 years but, in fact, mundane, consumer-grade panels sold for many years now. NREL's research shows that these cheap panels will return 88% as much power in 25 years, losing just 0.8% (on average) of their performance for the first few years, and then losing less from there.

Look, nuclear power is great, and I'm all for it, but being against solar based on these ginned-up numbers is just silly. There's solid data out there, based on decades of research, but you're relying on some rando's website for some reason. It's not a good look.

Mike writes:

Yeah, I have no idea what that random dude's website is, but I'm gonna go ahead and trust the U.S. Department of Energy instead.

An alternative link, which is a Dominion report:
https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1627/ML16271A535.pdf
"One additional factor to consider for solar installation is the amount of land required. For example, the installation of 1,000 MW of solar requires 8,000 acres of land."

The solar farm for Spotsylvania, VA will produce 500 MW using 6,000 acres of land:
https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/renewable/solar/massive-solar-farm-proposed-in-virginia/

Look at any of the existing solar farms in our state and their capacity/land usage:
https://www.dominionenergy.com/company/making-energy/renewable-generation/solar-generation/virginia-solar-projects

Oceana for example uses 100 acres and produces 18 MW. Based on your claims, that land usage should be producing almost 28 times more power than it really does.

There is solid data out there from solar farms that already exist, but your debating using one link where you're misinterpreting the information. It's not a good look.

Mike writes:

NREL's research shows that these cheap panels will return 88% as much power in 25 years

I'm fully aware that it's not a 100% loss after that time. But we're also not talking about a home investment where we can still be happy seeing a return. We're talking about massive planning and sustainment.

Consider that 12% loss on a 500 MW facility would be a 60 MW degradation. That's equivalent to the loss of nearly 3.5 solar farms like Oceana that I mentioned above. That would mean around 350 acres of cleared land wasted, a $140 million financial loss, and ~15,400 homes that would be without power.

So yes, it's a big deal.

Mike writes:

I'll add one last thing, just incase you haven't figured it out yet, the information you misinterpreted from the reference of 6.1 acres per megawatt:

Using that data, 500 MW = 3,050 acres. Not 81 acres.

So real world, regional examples plus your own link prove the point that solar is still incredibly inefficient and not able to meet demand.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Mike, your cited source — The Institute for Energy Research — is a Koch Brothers project that's funded by ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute, and Peabody Energy (coal). The Koch Brothers made a fortune in the oil industry, are staunch opponents of renewable energy, and set up groups like The Institute for Energy Research as a front for the fossil fuel industry. Your other source, Dominion, famously objects to renewable energy.

I gave you numbers for cheap, consumer-grade panels, because that's what you raised, but now you are applying those numbers to industrial applications. NREL's panel degradation data shows that the best panels do not degrade each year — that's based on 1.7 gigawatts of PV installations on over 50,000 sites. Those are, of course, the class of panels being used for industrial applications. NREL's numbers on land use are based on all solar farms in the United States, so cherry-picking anti-solar-organizations' numbers in opposition is really meaningless.

Your concerns, as best as I can tell, are that solar uses a lot of land, and that energy companies will need to buy new solar panels. As we can see from the enormously detailed studies published by NREL, solar uses a great deal less land than you fear it does, and the panels last for some decades. The good news is that we have a great deal of cheap, open land in Virginia to house vast numbers of solar panels, so that's not really a concern. And replacing solar panels just gets cheaper and panels get more efficient, so solar farms will be quite happy to replace their panels every 40 years or so — at a pessimistic 7% annual decline in the cost per watt, the wattage per dollar will double every decade! That means solar farms can get 50% smaller every ten years at the same price, neatly solving both of your concerns simultaneously.

And if you're still concerned about the need to buy new panels, I have bad news for you about the price of uranium, which is 28% of the operating costs of a nuclear plant. Nuclear is still a cheap way to make power! But, like, you gotta keep buying uranium to keep it running. Just like you gotta keep buying solar panels to keep your solar facility running...just a lot less often.

Michael writes:

Living beside the largest solar project east of the Mississippi River I will tell you
That the Spotsylvania Solar project is 10sq miles 6500 ac with about 6300 ac
Clear cut. Now starting to put in retention ponds for erosion! The 800 ac beside me were 60 year old oak trees that will never be replanted! And for what to give Microsoft
And Amazon a Green Credit Tax Brake and it goes into the GRID so these companies
don’t know where the power is coming from!!! All thay know is TAX BRAKE.
And if you believe everything you read from the SOLAR TIMES You need to take your
head out of the sand. Solar panel company’s say 25 years but only in China panels
are replaced every 10 years WHY because the amount of power is gravely reduced do
to the weather conditions and thay make them!Yes panel’s are cheap enough
Now BIGGER PROBLEM who is going to take the used panels? No company in the USA
or China has come up with this answer as of 2019! So this Green Isn’t So Green!
Look at how much carbon the solar plants put out to make this green product
And then how much carbon a oak tree take out you would be surprised how much 1ac
Of trees remove! Yes do something but don’t KILL the EARTH you are trying to
save!! Plant Oak Trees Not Solar Panels

GRID Alternatives, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

Needs fine-tuning

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