On June 15, 2011, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell signed eight renewable energy bills. Highlights from the bills include the establishment of a Clean Energy Manufacturing Incentive Grant Program that includes job creation mandates; establishment of a Voluntary Solar Resource Development Fund to finance solar installations in residential, non-profit and commercial sectors; doubling of the allowable on-site electricity generation capacity for net metering from 10 to 20 kilowatts; and extension of tax credits for purchase of biofuel vehicles to 2014.
SB 862 Commonwealth Energy Policy; local renewable energy facility siting ordinances. Requires that a local ordinance addressing the siting of renewable energy facilities be consistent with provisions of the Commonwealth Energy Policy, and provide reasonable criteria and requirements on the siting of any such facility.
HB 1686 Distributed solar generation demonstration programs.Directs the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to exercise its existing authority to consider for approval petitions filed by a utility to own and operate distributed solar generation facilities and to offer special tariffs to facilitate customer-owned distributed solar generation as alternatives to net energy metering.
HB 1912 Electric utility ratemaking procedures; recognition of Commonwealth Energy Policy. Directs the State Corporation Commission (SCC), when required to approve the construction of an electric utility facility, to consider the economic and job creation objectives of the Commonwealth Energy Policy, including whether the cost is likely to result in unreasonable increases in customers’ rates.
HB 1983 Net energy metering program. Increases the maximum capacity of an electrical generation facility of a residential customer that qualifies for participation in a net energy metering program from 10 to 20 kilowatts.
HB 2191 Voluntary Solar Resource Development Fund. Establishes the Voluntary Solar Resource Development Fund, from which money will be loaned for projects that involve the acquisition, installation, or operation of photovoltaic devices, solar water heating devices, or certain solar space heating devices at residential, commercial, or non-profit facilities. The measure requires the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to provide the option to make voluntary contributions to the Fund, and expires July 1, 2016.
HB 2316 Clean Energy Manufacturing Incentive Grant Program. Repeals the Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing Incentive Grant Program effective July 1, 2013, and the Biofuels Production Incentive Grant Program effective July 1, 2017, to create a program that provides financial incentives to companies that manufacture or assemble equipment, systems, or products used to produce renewable or nuclear energy, or products used for energy conservation, storage, or grid efficiency purposes. To be eligible for a grant, the manufacturer must make a capital investment greater than $50 million and create at least 200 full-time jobs. A wind energy supplier must make a capital investment of greater than $10 million and create at least 30 full-time jobs
HB 2389 Virginia Resources Authority; renewable energy projects. Adds renewable energy projects to those projects which the Virginia Resources Authority may finance.
SB 1236 Clean fuel vehicle and advanced cellulosic biofuels job creation tax credit. Extends the sunset date of the tax credit from the 2011 taxable year to the 2014 taxable year.
Biofuels for Transportation: A Climate Perspective
Prepared by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Pew Center on Global Climate Change
As the United States seeks to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from motor vehicles and to lessen its dependence on imported oil, biofuels are gaining increasing attention as one possible solution. This paper offers an introduction to the current state of play for biofuels: the technologies used in their production, their GHG emissions, and associated policy issues.
The amount of emission reductions that can be achieved through the use of biofuels varies widely, depending on choices made at each step from feedstock selection and production through final fuel use.
Technologies exist today to produce a wide variety of biofuels from a wide range of feedstocks. However, currently commercial options are limited to ethanol made from cornstarch or sugarcane, and biodiesel made from soybean or palm oil seeds. Current research and development focuses on lowering biofuel costs, GHG emissions, and land and water resource needs, and on improving compatibility with fuel distribution systems and vehicle engines. Policy priorities should be aligned with these R&D objectives as well as with other policies addressing climate, agriculture, forestlands and international trade.
The critical issue when considering the climate benefits of biofuels is each fuel’s GHG profile—not whether it is “renewable” or “fossil-fuel”-based. Also, vehicle efficiency is especially important for biofuels because less overall fuel demand means less competition with other uses for land and biomass. Therefore, policies to encourage further development and use of biofuels for climate-related purposes should focus on their GHG profiles and on increased vehicle efficiency. In addition to climate change and energy security, the opportunity to support the agricultural sector is an extremely important and powerful motivation for pursuing biofuels worldwide. However, any benefits to the agricultural sector must be weighed against impacts on food prices and land use, both of which are also major international concerns.
About the Author
Naomi Pena holds a Masters in City and Regional Planning, environmental focus, from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her career has been devoted to reconciling economic and environmental objectives through analysis of policy, regulatory, and project options. Ms. Pena worked at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, C2ES's predecessor organization, for nine years before moving to Austria, where she currently works at the Joanneum Research Institute.
In addition to analyzing general policy options to address climate change, she has specialized in the role of land use and land use change (LULUCF) in climate change mitigation, biofuels as a mechanism to address climate change, and technologies and policies needed to capture and store in geologic formations the carbon dioxide that results from electricity generation and other industrial processes. Prior to working at the Pew Center, Ms. Pena worked internationally and domestically at a number of governmental and private institutions.