Northam sets 100% renewable energy target for 2050

By Davis Burroughs

September 17, 2019

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued an executive order today setting a goal for Virginia to produce 100% of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2050. 

The order says the goal will help Virginia combat climate change, a challenge that poses “potentially devastating risks to Virginia.”

Virginia is at particular risk from rising sea levels and the increased frequency of extreme heat days that come with unchecked climate change.

More than 400,000 homes around Virginia are at risk for storm surge damage and the projected costs for repairs is a whopping $92 billion. The Hampton Roads area, home to 1.7 million people, is at particular risk, and is the second-most vulnerable area in the country to rising seas, behind only New Orleans. 

By 2050, the number of days per year with a heat index above 90 degrees Fahrenheit could more than double to 75 days per year, and by 2100, according to a 2019 report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, that figure rises to 106 days per year. 

Norham’s order sets an intermediate goal of reaching 30% renewable energy by 2030 and directs state agencies to procure at least 30 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2022.

Michael Town, executive director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, called the order a “leap in the right direction.”

“Next, we need to elect a legislature that won’t stand in the way of Virginia’s clean energy future and will help put a strong and just plan into action as the first order of business,” Town said in a statement.

Virginia’s GOP legislature has repeatedly thwarted Northam’s attempts to pass legislation boosting clean energy production in the Commonwealth. All 140 seats in the House and Senate are up for re-election this November.

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