Virginia Can Meet and Beat Power Plant Carbon Pollution Limits

RICHMOND (August 19, 2015) – Virginia can strike a blow against climate change and reach its new federal target for cutting power plant carbon pollution by advancing energy efficiency, boosting wind and solar power, and adopting complementary energy policies that help low-income communities, a new  Natural Resources Defense Council fact sheet shows.

Virginia is slated to meet most of the carbon pollution reduction goals under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan with the planned retirement of one coal plant, switching other plants to lower-carbon fuels, and expected growth in clean energy sources, NRDC’s fact sheet shows.

“Virginia is firmly on the road to cutting dangerous carbon pollution from power plants. The state can close the final gap, and even do better, by boosting energy efficiency savings and taking advantage of Virginia’s vast untapped potential to develop more wind and solar power,” said Walton Shepherd, an attorney at NRDC who focuses on energy issues in Virginia.

“The ball is in Governor McAuliffe’s court,” Shepherd added. “He should seize this moment to draft a strong state plan to cut carbon pollution, create good-paying clean energy jobs, and lift the economy. With climate change already affecting Virginians, the time to act is now.”

NRDC’s study is among the first to show how Virginia can comply with the landmark Clean Power Plan, which was finalized on August 3rd and sets state-specific targets for power plant carbon pollution cuts toward a national goal of a 32 percent cut by 2030.

NRDC shows that Virginia can reach its carbon pollution target through energy efficiency improvements and advances in clean energy, and that and doing so it can avoid overreliance on carbon-intensive natural gas.

NRDC prepared the fact sheet for the public and policymakers who will be examining options for Virginia as it works to comply with the Clean Power Plan. Governor McAuliffe has said he is looking forward to working with stakeholders to accomplish the objectives of reducing carbon emissions, creating the next generation of clean energy jobs, and building up Virginia’s economy

NRDC’s fact sheet profiles the state’s current sources of electricity—wind, solar, coal, natural gas, hydro and nuclear power— and changes to that mix that would help meet the Clean Power Plan requirements. Under a “mass-based” approach—reducing total tonnage—the EPA has given Virginia a goal of reducing power plant carbon pollution from 147.7 million tons (the total emitted in 2012) to 93.4 million tons in 2030.

The fact sheet notes that Virginia has voluntary efficiency and renewable energy goals for its power plants. If the goals are met, utilities will generate 15 percent of their 2007 annual sales from renewables by 2025, and reduce energy waste 10 percent relative to 2006 sales by 2022. That would put the state in compliance with the Clean Power Plan.

The fact sheet also addresses the possibility of Virginia joining neighboring states to curb carbon pollution within a regional framework that could help promote reliability of the state’s energy supply.

NRDC’s fact sheet, “Virginia’s Pathway to Cutting Carbon Pollution,” is here:

NRDC also has prepared a resource book, “Clean Power: the Case for Carbon Pollution Limits,” It is here:


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