Virginia renewable energy and energy efficiency

Virginia offers a variety of incentive programs to encourage the adoption of renewable energy and the improvement of energy efficiency, which are available for residential customers, small and large businesses, and government agencies.

A history of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Virginia

Virginia's 1999 electric industry restructuring law requires the state's electricity providers to disclose (to the extent feasible) fuel mix and emissions data regarding electric generation. In 2007, the Virginia passed legislation (SB 1416) to amend earlier electric industry restructuring law, including an energy efficiency goal of 10% electricity savings by 2022 relative to 2006 base sales. This legislation also includes a provision that electricity customers in Virginia have the option to purchase 100% renewable energy from their utility. Beginning from July 1, 2008, homeowners in Virginia generally are allowed to install or use a solar energy collection device on their property.

Hydroelectric power, including pumped hydroelectric storage, has the greatest generating capacity of renewable energy sources in Virginia. Virginia's Bath County Pumped Storage Station, with a net generating capacity of 3,003 megawatts, is the largest pumped hydroelectric storage facility in the world. In October 2016, the largest solar farm (80 MW) in the mid-Atlantic region at that time went into service on Virginia's Eastern Shore. The largest share of solar PV generation in Virginia is provided by utility-scale facilities. However, the state does not have any wind-powered utility-scale electricity generation despite the fact that it has large areas with offshore wind energy1.

Virginia's Renewable Portfolio Standard

Virginia established a voluntary Renewable Energy Portfolio (RPS) goal in 2007 as part of legislation to re-regulate the state's electricity industry. The RPS targets are defined as percentages of the amount of electricity sold in 2007 (the "base year"), minus the average annual percentage of power supplied from nuclear generators between 2004 and 2006. The voluntary RPS goal encourages investor-owned utilities to acquire an average of 15% renewable energy sources in calendar year 2025. Participating utilities are allowed to recover costs for RPS programs and provided with an increased rate of return. Virginia's RPS allows investor-owned utilities to meet up to 20% of a renewable energy goal through certificated research and development activity expenses related to renewable energy and alternative energy sources.

Important renewable energy organizations in Virginia

The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) was created by the Virginia Constitution of 1902. It has regulatory authority over utilities, insurance, state-chartered financial institutions, securities, retail franchising, and railroads. The SCC is an independent branch of state government with delegated administrative, legislative and judicial powers2. The Division of Public Utility Regulation (PUR) provides support to the Commission in its regulation of Virginia's investor-owned electric, natural gas, water and sewer utilities, member-owned electric cooperatives, and the telecommunications industry. Its chief function is supporting the Commission in its goal to ensure Virginia consumers receive adequate utility services at just and reasonable rates3. The state's electricity providers are required to disclose emissions and fuel mis to SCC at least once annually.

Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMEE) was created in 1985, which enhances the development and conservation of energy and mineral resources in a safe and environmentally sound manner to support a more productive economy. It also is the leader in carrying out the Governor's Virginia Energy Plan and encourages energy efficiency and renewable energy as well as use of alternatively fueled vehicles4.

Utilities, gas companies, and local governments in the state also play a significant role in advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency. There are two predominant investor-owned utilities (IOUs) in the state. Dominion Virginia Power is the largest investor-owned utility in Virginia; Appalachian Power is the second-largest. Virginia's two largest gas companies, Columbia Gas and Washington Gas Light, offer rebate programs for purchase of energy efficient equipment and measures as well. Local governments, including Arlington and Fairfax County, also provide financial incentives to make energy efficiency improvements.


  1. “Virginia State Profile Analysis”. accessed September 16, 2019
  2. “Overview of the Commission”. accessed September 16, 2019
  3. “Division of Public Utility Regulation”. accessed September 16, 2019
  4. “Overview of Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy”. accessed September 16, 2019

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