Renewable Energy Certificates

A mandatory Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) program was enacted by the Virginia General Assembly and codified in § 56-585.5 (RPS Statute) of the Code of Virginia. This replaced Virginia’s previous voluntary RPS program. Virginia-eligible Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) are identified in Subsection C of the RPS Statute for two, distinct periods: (i) 2021-2024, and (ii) 2025 and thereafter.

As set out in the RPS Statue, during the period 2021-2024, eligible generation resources for Virginia-qualifying RECs must be located either in Virginia, or within the PJM region. Additionally, these generation resources must meet the definition of “renewable energy” as provided in § 56-576 of the Code and abide with certain other criteria as provided.

Eligible generation resources for Virginia-qualifying RECs during the period 2025 and thereafter are also described in the RPS Statute.

Also, attributes are verified as RECs consistent with the PJM-Environmental Information Services (PJM-EIS) Generation Attribute Tracking System (GATS). As such the Commission may revise PJM-EIS GATS Business Rules concerning the registration, creation, and retirement of Virginia-eligible RECs in GATS to stay aligned with the Code of Virginia.

GATS Business Rules Effective January 1, 2023: Revised Business Rules for Issuing VA-Approved RECs pursuant to 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA)

Additional PJM-EIS GATS specific context provided by Staff: 

All Virginia-eligible RECs are registered via the PJM-EIS GATS process.

The PJM-EIS registration process for GATS is described in the “Generation Attribute Tracking System (GATS) Operating Rule” document available through PJM-EIS. Virginia does not have a separate registration process. However, the PJM-EIS GATS registration process for generators requires issuance of a State Certification Number. PJM-EIS will assign a unique state certification number to each REC generated and registered within GATS. Generators may visit PJM-EIS or email to request a State Certification Number and then register a resource.

Currently, in Virginia, there is no separate renewable energy resource-specific market, e.g. for Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC). However, there are specific resource identifiers for REC resources one megawatt and lower, as well as low income qualifying projects provided for in the RPS Statute. These resources receive an additional suffix to the State Certification Number as an identifier in GATS.

RECs registered in GATS are either self-managed through PJM-EIS GATS, managed by a REC broker/aggregator, or bundled with the energy sold to the grid as part of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Owners of small installations, i.e. residential, may decide to utilize the RECs produced, often solar, and sell into the PJM REC market via a broker or aggregator; a list of such aggregators and brokers registered with PJM GATS as doing business in Virginia is available.

PJM-EIS Account Holders can retire RECs in GATS for RPS compliance reasons, to make environmental claims, or for environmental benefit reasons.

Historical References:

Commission Cases

2020 - Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA)

The 2020 Acts of Assembly — Chapter 1193, known as the Virginia Clean Economy Act 

  • Summary of the portions of the Code of Virginia Subsection C of § 56-585.5 (RPS Statute) enacted as part of the VCEA for certain investor-owned electric utilities.
    • During the period 2021-2024, eligible generation sources for Virginia-qualifying RECs must be located either in Virginia, or within the PJM region. Additionally, these generation sources must meet the definition of “renewable energy” as provided in § 56-576 of the Code. However, Subsection C excludes from REC eligibility during the 2021-2024 period, the following four categories of energy sources or generation facilities: (i) renewable thermal energy (defined in § 56-576), (ii) renewable thermal energy equivalent (also defined in § 56-576), (iii) biomass-fired facilities that are outside the Commonwealth, and (iv) biomass-fired facilities operating in the Commonwealth as of January 1, 2020, that supply 10 percent or more of their annual net electrical generation to the electric grid or more than 15 percent of their annual total useful energy to any entity other than the manufacturing facility to which the generating source is interconnected.
    • From compliance year 2025 and all years after, each Phase I and Phase II Utility may only use RECs from RPS eligible sources for compliance with the RPS Program.

2014 Session of the Virginia General Assembly: SB 580, Voluntary Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Program

2007 Acts of Assembly - Chapter 933

  • Allowed any investor-owned incumbent electric utility to apply to the Commission for approval to participate in a voluntary renewable energy portfolio standard program [eliminated from the Code upon enactment of the VCEA].