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Lawmakers Are Divided on How to Best Implement Renewable Energy Sources

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Lawmakers are talking about investments in renewable sources of energy. But, as Michael Pope reports, some members of the General Assembly are frustrated by the discussion.

Republicans don’t want to mandate a renewable portfolio standard. They don’t want to allow people to offset the cost of their power bills using solar panels. And they really don’t want to implement a moratorium on fossil fuels by 2035. That last one was a bill introduced by Democratic Delegate Sam Rasoul of Roanoke -- one of dozens of environmental bills that were snuffed out this week.  

“My bill was to have a conversation about what the long term plan should be, especially given the innovation that’s been happening. We should be able to embrace this disruption, and anytime we can innovate to help ratepayers and consumers I’m a fan of it.”

Republican Delegate Terry Kilgore says Rasoul’s bill would have been impractical.

“You couldn’t do that and operate the grid right now. You have to have gas. You have to have some coal. And that would not have been a workable solution.”

Kilgore is working on a plan that would divert money from ratepayer refunds to utility companies, who will then invest in wind power and solar energy. Critics say utilities have been overcharging consumers for years, and that money belongs to consumers. If Republicans really want to invest in renewable sources of energy, they say, they should find the money somewhere else.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.