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Virginia Mercury: Natural Gas Development is Speeding Up in Virginia. Legislators Will Have to Square That With State Climate Goals.

Posted by Sarah Vogelsong on Dec 30, 2020

Virginia Mercury reported on Virginia's energy mix and natural gas development given Gov. Ralph Northam's recent call for a carbon-free grid, including quotes by Virginia AEE's Harry Godfrey. Read excerpts below and the entire Virginia Mercury piece here. 

This September, Gov. Ralph Northam took the stage at the inaugural Virginia Clean Energy Summit to announce he was committing the state to a carbon-free grid by 2050. “I always say that I want Virginia to be a welcoming place, with our lights on and our doors open,” he said. “Well, I also want those lights to be powered by clean energy.” But as the governor received a standing ovation, elsewhere in the commonwealth work was underway to massively expand infrastructure supporting a very different — and decidedly not carbon-free — type of energy: natural gas. 

The past year has seen a flow of investments in natural gas in Virginia, from ongoing work on the Mountain Valley Pipeline and continued efforts to construct the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to plans by state utilities and private investors to build up to 12 new natural gas plants. Now, as the General Assembly prepares to convene this January under new Democratic leadership, lawmakers are struggling to chart a course for Virginia’s energy policy in a state split between carbon-free goals and intensive natural gas investment...

Utilities, and a handful of private investors, have contended that to meet that demand and keep Virginia’s lights on, natural gas is a necessary bridge. But many clean energy advocates and industry analysts say there are other options — and that continuing to build out the natural gas grid bears environmental and financial risks for the state. “The economics in and of itself would seem to indicate that we’re transitioning away” from traditional forms of generation, said Harry Godfrey, executive director of Virginia Advanced Energy Economy, an industry group that advocates for clean energy on economic and business grounds. 

“I think that should raise real questions in regulators’ minds and in the minds of consumers about whether or not investing in a set of assets whose economics are increasingly in question makes the most sense for the benefit of ratepayers,” he said. “Is the only way to meet an identified need by building a new power plant, or are there other responses?...”

Read the entire Virginia Mercury piece here. 

Topics: AEE In The News