ROANOKE, Va. – Appalachian Power will acquire or contract for 210 megawatts (MW) of solar power and 200 MW of wind power over the next five years as part of its long-range plan to meet the targets established by the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA). Passed this year by the General Assembly, the legislation requires the utility to file an annual plan with the State Corporation Commission outlining how it will meet key targets on its way to becoming 100 percent carbon-free by 2050.
“Our blueprint meets the law’s requirements while keeping customer costs as low as possible,” said Chris Beam, Appalachian Power president and chief operating officer. “What we filed today is a well thought out plan that not only relies on existing resources, but carefully expands our renewables portfolio in the Commonwealth while minimizing customer impacts over the next 30 years.”
The VCEA is a transformative law that seeks to end carbon dioxide emissions from the utility industry in Virginia. The company intends to meet the VCEA targets primarily through future investments in solar, wind, energy storage, and energy efficiency measures. Short-term plans are to acquire or contract 210 MW of solar resources in Virginia and 200 MW of wind in the next five years. By 2050, the company expects to add 3,400 MW of solar, 2,200 MW of on-shore wind, and 400 MW of energy storage to its current portfolio of wind and hydro resources.
Customer bills are estimated to increase as the company adds more renewables to comply with the VCEA’s annual requirements. The amount will depend on customer class and usage. Costs related to VCEA compliance are expected to add approximately 3.5 percent over five years to a residential customer’s bill.
“Our objective is to provide safe and reliable electricity for our customers while meeting our environmental and regulatory obligations,” said Beam. “With the plan we’ve developed, we’re able to accomplish that while keeping costs reasonable for our customers.”
The law further mandates utility companies set a schedule for closing fossil fuel plants located in Virginia. Appalachian Power no longer owns or operates coal-fueled generation plants in Virginia. Its last Virginia coal plant, Clinch River in Carbo, Virginia, was converted to natural gas and is set for closure in 2025.
The VCEA also requires Appalachian Power develop new measures to promote energy efficiency. Programs outlined in the company’s plan are applicable to residential and commercial/industrial customers.
Appalachian Power has 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee (as AEP Appalachian Power). It is part of American Electric Power, which is focused on building a smarter energy infrastructure and delivering new technologies and custom energy solutions. AEP’s approximately 17,400 employees operate and maintain the nation’s largest electricity transmission system and more than 221,000 miles of distribution lines to efficiently deliver safe, reliable power to nearly 5.4 million customers in 11 states. AEP is also one of the nation’s largest electricity producers with approximately 31,000 megawatts of diverse generating capacity, including 5,200 megawatts of renewable energy.