Virginia Department of Energy takes new name as Commonwealth looks to transition to renewable energy

Politics

(Nexstar DC photo)

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — As of October 1, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy is now the Virginia Department of Energy (Virginia Energy).

“Virginia is all-in on clean energy,” said Governor Northam. “We’ve passed one of the most sweeping clean energy laws in the country, and we are transitioning our electric grid to 100 percent renewable energy. These are exciting changes, and they mean new jobs, new investment, cleaner air, and a stronger economy.”

The Department’s new name reflects a decision passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Northam in April 2021.

The legislation also changed the former Division of Energy to Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency and the former Division of Mined Land Reclamation to Mined Land Repurposing.

“This agency will continue to provide a high level of service to our traditional customer base, while enhancing the communities we serve,” said Virginia Energy Director John Warren. “The well-timed clean energy movement has allowed us to respond and realign our staff, enabling us to work on new initiatives while keeping our continued customer service.”

The renaming of Virginia Energy follows the 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act that established a mandatory renewable portfolio standard to achieve 30 percent renewable energy by 2030, a mandatory energy efficiency resource standard, and the path to a carbon-free electric grid by 2045.

Officials say this is expected to provide a pathway for clean energy resources to be constructed while ensuring that the investments are made in a cost-effective way. It is also aimed at helping reduce electricity bills and bring energy efficiency savings to low-income households.

Earlier this year, the Department was reorganized to help focus on clean energy initiatives. Leaders shifted their attention toward development opportunities associated with the repurposing of previously mined sites.

“The Virginia Department of Energy has a long history of working with partners across the energy sector and across government at all levels in the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Collaboration between the agency and these partners will be critical to meeting the climate goals that are so important to all of us. This change reflects the agency’s mission to support clean energy programs and energy infrastructure development.”

Founded in 1985 as the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, the department originally worked to ensure the safety of coal, mineral, gas, and oil workers and environmental compliance at each site.

Since then, the agency has expanded significantly and has nearly 200 employees across the Commonwealth, with offices in Big Stone Gap, Charlottesville, and Richmond. The office is home to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Virginia State Energy Office, the Abandoned Mine Land program and Virginia’s Geology and Mineral Resources program.

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