RICHMOND, Va. — What keeps the lights on in state buildings will soon be a little “greener.”
Virginia is trying to make 30 percent of its state buildings powered by solar and wind energy in the next few years. Gov. Ralph Northam’s office just signed the largest state renewable energy contract in the nation with Dominion Energy to make it happen.
The buildings would include the Executive Mansion, the residence of the governor and Virginia’s first family, state agencies as well as state colleges and universities.
The Eastern Shore Democrat says he wants this goal to be reached before he leaves office in 2022.
“It will be important for the environment, but it will also create jobs in Virginia,” he told Capitol Bureau Reporter Sara McCloskey in an interview Friday.
The agreement with Dominion Energy includes using wind energy from the state’s first onshore wind farm, Apex Clean Energy.
This is part of an overall push from the Northam Administration to reduce how much of the Commonwealth’s energy puts out carbon into the air. Last month, Gov. Northam signed Executive Order 43 which establishes the ambitious goal to make Virginia’s electricity rely entirely on renewable resources by 2050.
In order to do that there are multiple projects in the works. If approved, there’s a proposal to build what would be the largest wind farm in the country about 30 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. There are also solar energy farms being developed across the Commonwealth.
Northam returned from a trade mission this week in Washington state. He says businesses there told him clean energy options are a priority.
“Virginians want that, our businesses that are growing in Virginia that are wanting to come to Virginia, it’s very important for them,” he added.
According to the governor’s office, the 20 year deal with Dominion is expected to the state millions of dollars over time.
Environmental advocates and Dominion Energy customers have repeatedly called into question the company’s commitment to renewable resources and clean energy. When asked about these concerns, the governor said so far Dominion Energy has been very cooperative.