Electric Power Reforms Gain Ground in Virginia

Published February 16, 2022

Two big Bills designed to fix Virginia’s broken electric power system have cleared the first legislative hurdle, on the road to becoming law. Both of these Virginia House Bills were approved by the cognizant Subcommittee of the House Commerce and Energy Committee.

HB 118 fully repeals the damaging (and nutty named) Virginia Clean Economy Act. VCEA foolishly mandates the complete elimination of fossil fueled electric power by 2045, with forced plant retirements beginning in 2023. The full Bill is here: https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?221+sum+HB118.

HB 73 amends VCEA to eliminate many of its worst features. You can read it here: https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?221+sum+HB73.

Strategically it is often easier to amend a law than to repeal it. As Jefferson Institute policy analyst and power guru Steve Haner puts it, HB 118 is a hammer while HB 73 is a scalpel.

Both Bills next go to the full Committee, then if passed to the full House. Both were approved on straight party votes and the Republicans have just taken control of the House, so prospects for one or both passing are pretty good. The real fight is likely to be in the Senate where the Democrats still have a slim majority.

For this reason the proponents of VCEA repeal or reform are gearing up to get the word out. CFACT is a big part of this effort, because VCEA is arguably the worst alarmist power law in America. In fact CFACT President Craig Rucker testified at the Subcommittee hearing in favor of HB 118.

I myself filed the following Comment on HB 118, challenging Virginia’s giant electric power company Dominion, to provide an honest assessment of VCEA’s damaging cost and unreliability.

“Dominion has no plan that complies with VCEA and provides reliable electricity. In their 2020 IRP they said they would have to import up to 10,000 MW in winter because solar was completely unreliable. But then in their 2021 IRP Update they say that imports like this are not feasible because everyone is going solar. The only alternative is huge amounts of storage, hundreds of thousands of MWh, costing hundreds of billions of dollars, but their plan only provides 16,000 MWh. It is completely unreliable, beginning next winter. VCEA simply cannot work. See my article for details: https://www.cfact.org/2022/01/21/vcea-makes-virginias-electric-grid-dangerously-unreliable/

Several CFACT analysts besides me have done detailed analyses of VCEA’s absurd consequences. Just use the search feature at CFACT on VCEA.

Another excellent resource is the “Repeal The Virginia Clean Economy Act” website at https://repealvcea.com/. Of particular interest is a county by county breakdown of the nearly 800 square miles of solar slabs now in the VCEA development lineup. Repeal VCEA senior adviser Collister Johnson led off the Subcommittee testimony for HB 118.

Unfortunately the short Virginia legislative session is a mad scramble, with hundreds of Bills under cursory consideration. Those of you who live in Virginia, or have contacts there, are urged to take quick action. Letters, phone calls, or even brief emails to Senators are most important at this time.

If the green Democrats manage to block meaningful electric power reform this session you may be sure our fight for sanity will continue. But now is the time to push and push hard.

This is not just a Virginia issue. As Governor Youngkin has said, it is time to “change course on electric power”. This is certainly true for all America, and for the whole world. It is time to steer away from renewable madness.

First published at CFACT.

Photo by XoMEoX, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).