When it comes to clean energy, Virginia cities and counties have a big problem – a state rule that prevents them from crafting policies to promote solar power, wind power and conservation.
This month, Albemarle County announced its first Climate Action Plan – pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% in the next ten years and to have zero emissions by 2050. Its press release featured words like facilitate, incentivize and study, but did not mention requirements, penalties or bans. That’s because, by law, they can’t actually regulate energy production or pollution.
“Cities like Richmond and Virginia Beach can advocate for more stringent statewide codes, but at the end of the day they can’t adopt them locally," says David Ribeiro. He is with the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, a non-profit that rated the top 100 U.S. cities on their clean energy goals.
”Richmond ranks 43 out of the hundred cities, and Virginia Beach ranks 72,” Ribeiro says, adding that Virginia cities would have done better if this state allowed localities to pass laws promoting green energy, and if we had an electric company with a stronger commitment to conservation.
"If Dominion were to expand programs or achieve more savings from their existing energy savings programs that would also help both cities," he explains.
Top-ranked cities include New York, Boston, Seattle, Denver and Washington, D.C.