Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has established the Virginia Energy Council, which will assist in the development and implementation of a cohesive, comprehensive, and aggressive energy strategy for Virginia and deliver recommendations for the Virginia Energy Plan. The Plan will be submitted to the General Assembly on October 1, 2014.
Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones will chair the Council.
Speaking about the executive order, Governor McAuliffe commented: “Virginia must develop an aggressive strategy to protect existing jobs in our energy industries while positioning the Commonwealth to be a leader in new energy technologies. An innovative energy strategy will enable us to attract the best businesses and entrepreneurs to Virginia, create more jobs in growing industries, and lead a 21st Century Virginia economy. As we move forward with this process, the Virginia Energy Council will be an important partner as we work toward meeting our energy goals.”
The Virginia Energy Plan will address the objectives of the Commonwealth Energy Policy set forth in the Code of Virginia.
These objectives include:
- Accelerating the development and use of renewable energy sources – Virginia can become a hub of innovative and alternative energy research and development by focusing on expanding the use of the Commonwealth’s underutilized renewable assets, such as solar and offshore wind.
- Increasing energy productivity through greater efficiency – Virginia can become a national leader in energy efficiency practices that will increase the productivity of the energy used by citizens and businesses throughout the Commonwealth, while not imposing a disproportionate adverse impact on economically disadvantaged or minority communities.
- Promoting a diverse energy mix – Virginia should continue to increase the diversity of sources used to generate energy in the Commonwealth to ensure that we are not overly-reliant on particular sources.
- Growing jobs in the energy sector – Virginia’s quality higher education institutions and world-class community college system are well-positioned to educate and prepare the next generation of energy workers. A trained and skilled energy workforce will attract new businesses and help expand existing businesses.
To achieve these objectives, it is critical that the Commonwealth engage the private sector, localities, and other interested stakeholders to develop significant and meaningful energy policies.
The Virginia Energy Council is charged with working to update the Virginia Energy Plan. Duties of the Council include:
- Receiving, reviewing, and evaluating input offered by Virginia’s residents and businesses related to the Plan;
- Developing strategies to make Virginia a national leader in energy efficiency and ensure that the cost of energy for Virginia consumers remains highly competitive;
- Developing strategies to increase the diversity of energy used to power Virginia, while ensuring a commitment to the most efficient use of existing energy sources;
- Developing strategies to increase Virginia’s renewable energy economy and grow the entire energy industry in Virginia by retaining, expanding, and attracting businesses in the energy sector;
- Developing strategies to increase the international export of Virginia’s coal;
- Identifying opportunities to expand Virginia’s needed energy infrastructure and to increase the reliability of the Commonwealth’s existing energy infrastructure;
- Reviewing an analysis of any regulations proposed or promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel-fired electric generating units under § 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. § 7411(d);
- Providing expertise and advice on other policy strategies deemed appropriate during the drafting of the Plan to grow the energy industry in the Commonwealth; and,
- Monitoring the implementation of the Plan, providing strategic guidance to ensure successful achievement of Plan goals, and reviewing the interim update of the Plan required to be presented by October 1, 2017.