|Action||Reduce and Cap Carbon Dioxide from Fossil Fuel Fired Electric Power Generating Facilities (Rev. C17)|
|Comment Period||Ends 7/26/2017|
It's imperative that, finally, Virginia is planning to cut carbon pollution; such efforts would be in compliance with the Paris Climate Accord. As a resident of the Commonwealth and native Virginian, I very much want my state to create a plan that provides an equitable and just cap that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To ensure that the policy best benefits Virginians, following are high priority actions and goals for the DEQ to address in its draft rule:
1. Create a rule based on the strongest available science that significantly reduces carbon pollution from Virginia’s new and existing power plants.
2. Ensure that Virginians — not utilities — benefit from any profits from carbon regulations, especially our front-line communities and those disproportionately adversely impacted by the move away from fossil fuel production and operations (i.e., Virginia's "coal counties").
3. Address the disproportionate environmental effects experienced by our most vulnerable communities and populations (e.g., low income, minorities, coastal, those in path of proposed pipelines).
4. Grow the economy and reduce carbon pollution by maximizing investments in zero-carbon wind, solar, and energy efficiency.
5. Provide a transparent and accessible public hearing process where all concerned Virginians can fully participate in the rule-making process.
With respect to these priorities, monies derived from the cap must not go to the utilities, but should be distributed to all Virginians, with the following exceptions:
A. The regulations specify that the funds be specifically designated for programs through which utilities will provide direct fuel assistance to those in need (the regulations would need to define "need"/eligibility requirements).; and/or
B. The regulations require utilities to establish and maintain effective energy efficiency programs enabling customers to cost-effectively reduce their energy usage; such programs should provide on-bill financing for such customers and should provide to those in need no/low cost energy efficiency upgrades (using definition similar to A.); and/or
C. The regulations require utilities to establish programs to offer Virginians options for choose renewable energy to meet their electricity needs, including customer-owned community solar and other distributed renewable energy methods (e.g., rooftop, residential, commercial, agricultural wind and solar). The regulations authorize utilities to facilitate customer participation through such mechanisms as on-bill financing; and/or
D. The regulations require utilities to sponsor and fund community resilience programs to enable coastal locations and other vulnerable communities to prepare for and ameliorate the worst effects of severe weather and other consequences of climate disruption.
E. The regulations require utilities to establish re-training to employees displaced by the transition from fossil fuel to renewable programs, by sponsoring and funding educational opportunities in affected communities, working through the Virginia Community Colleges and Universities; and/or
With respect to these exception categories, the regulations must provide that the utilities cannot charge customers who participate in any of these programs "extra" fees such as standby charges, net metering caps, and/or similar disincentives.
If monies from the cap don't flow to utilities, then the state of Virginia should establish the programs described in A through F above.
In developing the draft rules, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) should examine all available models for regional and state cap and trade or fee and dividend programs to identify strengths and weaknesses and to avoid a "reinventing" the wheel, time-consuming process. Such programs include the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Western Climate Initiative, Southwest Climate Change initiative, Midwest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, North America 2050, Pacific Coast Collaborative, and the failed attempt in Washington State. Regulators should work to find the best design from the existing models, including those not currently active. Regulators should consult with PJM and representatives of all of its utilities, including municipals, co-ops, as well as the largest companies. Regulators should also work with states contiguous to, and geographically near, Virginia, to discuss and explore interest in and expectation for the establishment of a new consortium. Examples of such states include but are not limited to NC, SC, TN, WV, PA, NJ, and KY.