Virginia Must Sustain Momentum Toward a Clean Energy Future and a Competitive, Resilient Economy
October 3, 2022 /3BL Media/ - As Gov. Glenn Youngkin presents the 2022 Virginia Energy Plan today, the corporate sustainability organization Ceres is urging his administration to heed the call of major companies with operations in Virginia to prioritize clean energy resources and reduce climate pollution across the economy.
“Virginia companies understand that clean energy is a smart investment in a competitive and resilient economy. For years, they have pushed the state to adopt ambitious policies to cut carbon pollution and create policy certainty for companies looking to build and utilize clean energy resources,” said Alli Gold Roberts, senior director, state policy, at Ceres.
The Virginia Energy Plan is a guiding document developed during the first year of each governor’s administration to provide a framework for energy infrastructure and a strategic vision for Virginia’s energy policy for the next four years. In presenting the 2022 plan, Gov. Youngkin emphasized what he called an all of the above energy approach that includes natural gas, renewables, nuclear, and the exploration of emerging energy sources.
In September, Ceres coordinated a letter signed by eight companies, including Akamai, Mars, Nestlé, and Siemens, sharing guiding principles for the 2022 Virginia Energy Plan to achieve the Commonwealth’s energy, economic, and public health goals. The letter emphasized the importance of prioritizing clean energy resources in the plan, citing significant business benefits to clean energy such as lower energy costs, new in-state investments, and the ability to meet their own corporate climate goals.
“We understand firsthand how clean energy helps businesses save money, reduce risks, stay competitive, and meet the expectations of our customers, employees, and shareholders,” the companies wrote. “We hope the State will seize the opportunity to increase investments in policies that decarbonize the electric grid and increase the accessibility and cost-effectiveness of clean technologies.”
“We urge the Youngkin administration and Virginia policymakers and regulators to consider this corporate support and prioritize policies that will keep the Commonwealth on the path to a thriving clean energy economy. Achieving Virginia’s emissions reduction goals is vital to protect against the severe business risks of the climate crisis and minimize the impacts of climate change in communities—while also creating job opportunities and improving public health for these same communities. To take full advantage of these benefits, Virginia must focus on proven, cost-effective clean energy investments such as solar and wind rather than emerging, speculative technologies with unknown commercial viability,” said Roberts.
Companies in Virginia have long supported the Commonwealth’s efforts to confront the climate crisis with robust clean energy and transportation policies. In January, as the new legislative session began and the Youngkin administration took office, companies Hannon Armstrong, Lutron, Mars, Inc., Nestlé, Unilever, Workday, and Worthen Industries urged state lawmakers to maintain and build upon the considerable progress made in recent years to reduce pollution while growing a robust clean-energy economy and protecting Virginians from the effects of climate change.
In 2021, companies such as DHL, Lime, Lyft, and Uber encouraged Virginia lawmakers to approve new clean car rules that require automakers in the state to sell cars with stronger emission standards than federal policy demands in order to curb harmful vehicle pollution and provide financial savings for Virginia households and businesses.
In 2020, several large companies, including Akamai, Nestlé, Mars, IKEA, Kaiser Permanente, Schneider Electric, Unilever, and Worthen Industries, championed the landmark Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), which established Virginia as a climate leader, pledging to effectively eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and source 100% of electricity from clean sources by 2050.
Companies also celebrated in 2020 when Virginia joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a successful, multi-state cap-and-trade program in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic that has helped participating states reduce carbon pollution while growing the region’s economy and investing in climate solutions. The Youngkin administration is currently attempting to leave the program, despite its track record of success helping states dramatically reduce climate-harming pollution and grow their economies faster than the national average while keeping utility rates lower.
“RGGI is a business-friendly program that has grown the economy while advancing climate and energy security. It has produced billions of dollars in savings for businesses and residents, while creating legions of new highly paid jobs for energy workers.” added Roberts. “Virginia's RGGI revenue is dedicated to flood protection and energy efficiency programs—two crucial statewide climate and energy needs. Leaving RGGI would take away valuable funding, make it difficult to meet the Commonwealth’s climate goals, and risk damage to Virginia’s communities and economy.”
Ceres is a nonprofit organization working with the most influential capital market leaders to solve the world’s greatest sustainability challenges. Through our powerful networks and global collaborations of investors, companies and nonprofits, we drive action and inspire equitable market-based and policy solutions throughout the economy to build a just and sustainable future. For more information, visit ceres.org and follow @CeresNews.
Media Contact: Helen Booth-Tobin