December 28, 2012

Virginia utilities, lawmakers to reform renewable energy policy Read more: Virginia utilities, lawmakers to reform renewable energy policy

Virginia lawmakers, environmental groups and utilities are working to revamp the state's 2007 Electric Utility Re-Regulation Act, which is designed to bolster renewable energy generation.

Stakeholders want to reform loophole in the law allows utilities to receive financial credit for renewable energy investments made outside of Virginia.

A November report released by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli found that renewable energy standards introduced in 2007 did not address environmental concerns in the state and also led to consumer bill increases over the past five years. The report noted that utilities have purchased RECs from existing renewable generation rather than investing in new development.

But Cuccinelli, who is currently a candidate for governor, did not blame the utilities for the lackluster results and said in a release that they should "not be criticized for making beneficial business decisions based on choices provided or incentives offered by the law."

Virginia environmental groups echoed that sentiment.

"The biggest problem is that the law was intended to spur the development of new renewable energy in Virginia, and instead, the companies are able to fulfill the goals and get the associated financial benefits without actually investing in any new energy," Beth Kemler, Virginia Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, told WAMU.

Cuccinelli said he hopes research from the past five years will lead to successful policy changes going forward.

"I hope that this report will encourage serious policy discussions. We now have experience with how the adders have worked in practice, whether they are achieving their intended results, and at what cost. Based on the data, we should be able to improve electric utility ratemaking in Virginia, making it better for citizens, the business community, and the commonwealth as a whole," he said in a statement.

Stakeholders are meeting on January 16 to discuss possible changes.

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