Virginia produces less than half of the electricity it consumes, making it one of the biggest electricity importers in the nation. Coal was the primary fuel for electricity generation in Virginia until 2009, when it was surpassed by nuclear power. Natural gas became the primary fuel in 2015, and it currently accounts for about 44% of all electricity generation in Virginia. Natural gas prices have fallen dramatically over the past decade due to new extraction methods like fracking. About a third of Virginia's electricity production comes from it's two nuclear power plants.
Most of Virginia's renewable energy comes from biomass power plants, which usually burn wood waste from timber operations or solid municipal waste (garbage). More than half of Virginia is forested, so there is plenty of wood waste for the biomass power plants. Some of the wood waste is processed into pellet fuel, which is exported to Europe. Hydroelectric is the second largest source of renewable energy in Virginia, followed by solar.
Virginia Electricity Prices
Virginia has a regulated electricity market, whereby local utility companies set and control electricity prices, generation, and delivery in their service areas.
Fortunately, Virginia residents still benefit from lower electricity prices relative to the rest of the country. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average retail price of electricity for Virginia residents in December 2016 was 10.72¢ per kWh, a whole 1.49¢ below the average U.S. electricity price of 12.21¢ per kWh.
Residential electricity prices are still on the rise in Virginia, though, having increased more than 34% over the past 10 years. This trend has led to higher electricity bills for Virginia residents, motivating many to switch to renewable energy (i.e. go solar) to save money.
Virginia Energy Mix
Net Electricity Generation By Source:
Source: Energy Information Administration, 2016
From 2011-2016, Virginia has more than doubled it's electricity production from natural gas. Over the same period, electricity production from coal has fallen over 16%.
Virginia Energy Sector Employment
According to the 2016 Solar Jobs Census, the Virginia solar industry employs 3,236 people, up 65% from 2015. Most of these jobs come from distributed (rooftop) solar, which creates jobs for engineers, installers, salespeople, etc. Biomass is also a large source of jobs in Virginia. For example, NOVEC recently built a biomass plant in Halifax county with enough capacity to power 16,000 homes. During it's construction from 2011-2013, the project created 250-300 temporary jobs. When the plant was completed, 26 full-time jobs were created that will last for the plant's lifetime.
Fun fact: more Americans are employed by renewable energy than coal, oil, and gas combined, despite wind and solar energy only making up 5% of the total U.S. energy mix. According to a study from the University of California, Berkeley, solar energy creates over 7 times more jobs than coal or oil per MWh produced. The employment estimates for wind power differ from source to source, but most agree that it also produces more jobs than fossil fuels.
Virginia Utility Companies
The largest utility companies in Virginia are Dominion, Appalachian Power, Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC), and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative. Being in a regulated energy market, these utilities own the entire flow of electricity in their territories and also dictate electricity prices. As such, they are responsible for generating electricity, maintaining infrastructure, delivering electricity, and providing billing to all their residential and business customers across the state.
- Headquartered in Richmond, VA
- Serves approximately 2.5 million electric customers in Virginia and North Carolina
- One of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy
- Headquartered in Charleston, WV
- Serves approximately 448,402 residential electric customers in Virginia
- Subsidiary of American Electric Power (AEP)
Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC)
- Headquartered in Manassas, VA
- Serves approximately 162,000 electric customers in Virginia
- Owned and controlled by its customers
Arcadia's Virginia Renewable Energy Services
With Arcadia’s clean energy offerings, homeowners and renters across the state can now sign up to reduce their impact, be more energy efficient, and save on their energy bills while keeping their same utility company. Here are three programs currently available to Virginia residents:
As a Virginia utility customer, you can reduce your impact by matching your home’s electricity usage with renewable energy certificates from wind farms. You can sign up for our 50% Wind Energy plan for free, and begin service with your next utility bill. All you need is your local utility login to link up with Arcadia’s platform and start supporting wind farms each month at no extra cost to you.
We offer a community solar-savings program to homeowners and renters in Virginia. No matter where you live, you can subscribe to community solar projects across the country and start saving on your utility bill each month. There aren’t any installations, site visits, or equipment necessary, and if you move, your savings will even move with you.
Zero-down Energy Efficient Products
Our pay-as-you-save energy program enables Virginia utility customers to access energy efficient products for $0 down. We will offer LED light bulbs, Wiser Air Smart Thermostats, and other home energy products to help you be more efficient and save on your utility bills. As an Arcadia customer, you can simply pay for your efficient products over time using the energy savings you’ll start seeing each month.