What happens now to EV and clean energy momentum in Virginia?

On November 2, Republicans won elections in Virginia for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and the GOP has likely just squeaked past Democrats to take control of the House of Delegates. Does that mean that the majority of Virginians align with the Republican Party’s disinterest in transitioning to clean energy and electric vehicles?

Virginia is for EVs and clean energy

A new report released today by Charlottesville-based clean energy nonprofit Generation180, “Virginia Drives Electric 2021,” found that most Virginians support a transition to clean energy sources and investing in modernizing and electrifying Virginia’s transportation sector. And support is growing.

The report’s findings are consistent with national opinion polling:  According to a Yale survey, 70% of Americans support the US economy moving away from fossil fuels to 100% clean energy by 2050.

The representative statewide survey of 1,211 Virginians found that: 

  • 73% of Virginians support transitioning away from fossil fuels to clean energy 
  • 70% of Virginians indicated it was important for their state to invest in modernizing and electrifying its  transportation sector 
  • Almost 80% of Virginians have a positive view of electric vehicles, an increase of 9% since 2020
  • More than half (58%) of Virginia residents are likely to consider an EV for their next car, an increase of 5% since a year ago
  • Nearly three-quarters (68%) of Virginians support state-level incentives for EV purchases (The state currently does not have a plan in place.)
  • 67% of Virginians support Virginia implementing the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program (TCI P), a funding mechanism that could help states pay for big transportation improvements. 

What will happen under the new administration?

Despite support from the majority of Virginians, will Virginia’s current clean energy plan be derailed by fossil-fuel supporter Glenn Youngkin, the incumbent governor? E&E News reports, “[A]t a recent TV appearance, [Youngkin] wouldn’t say whether human activity has caused climate change, has said he wants to slow down the energy plan, and warned at a debate it would lead to “blackouts and brownouts and an unreliable energy grid.”

Stuart Gardner, director of Generation180’s Electrify Your Ride campaign, told Electrek:

Our recent statewide survey indicates Virginians widely support clean energy and electric vehicles.

Unfortunately, transportation modernization was not a key topic during the recent governor’s race.  However, I’m optimistic the Commonwealth can continue the momentum, because regardless of your politics, clean energy and EVs make sense for Virginia.

Revitalizing the Commonwealth’s transportation sector ensures Virginia is making the investments necessary to attract economic investment, protect the public’s health, and preserve our climate. 

William Shobe, director of the Energy Transition Initiative at the University of Virginia, told E&E News:

In the time frame available for the next governor, I don’t see huge changes.

Virginia is on its way to decarbonizing and that’s unlikely to change, at least in the short run. We are pushing our emissions profile down pretty quickly and serving as a leader among states.

Read more: Virginia governor signs groundbreaking green energy act

Photo: Generation180

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at michelle@9to5mac.com. Check out her personal blog.