2014: Energy efficiency's year in Virginia

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Posted by Ken Rosenfeld, VAEEC Executive Director (December 15, 2014)

As 2014 draws to a close, we are fortunate to look back on a year in which energy efficiency began to assume its rightful place as a key resource in Virginia. Thanks to the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council’s members and broad coalition of supporters, we proudly played a leading role in this success and are poised to accomplish much more in the year ahead.

It was an exciting year, highlighted by a couple of significant accomplishments:

  • The VAEEC released the results of the state’s first-ever energy efficiency industry census, revealing a robust Virginia industry comprised of 1,300 companies, 9,400 jobs, and $300 million in economic activity.
  • We played a central role in the effort to draft the new Virginia Energy Plan, and the VAEEC was the only organization asked by the Administration to present at each of the state’s Listening Sessions during the plan’s development.

The year was also notable for the number of positive signals coming out of the state government in 2014 that bode well for the future, including:

  • The new Virginia Energy Plan released by Governor McAuliffe suggests a new commitment to energy efficiency as a resource and a solution to our energy needs. For the first time, energy efficiency/conservation stands alongside other energy resources as a separate chapter in the plan, rather than a sidenote or afterthought.
  • The Energy Plan includes the formation of a new energy efficiency board, which will develop strategies for meeting Virginia’s longstanding, voluntary goal of a 10% reduction in energy consumption.
  • The Governor issued Executive Order 31, aimed at reducing energy consumption in state buildings, potentially saving millions of dollars and positioning the state government to lead by example, and issued Executive Order 36, creating a Green Community Program that will provide Virginia localities and the private sector with a low-cost financing tool to implement energy conservation projects.
  • The Governor also appointed a Chief Energy Efficiency Officer, possibly the first state-level position of its kind in the country, to ensure that positive actions are forthcoming.

Meanwhile, organizationally, the VAEEC continued to establish its presence in 2014 as a valued resource and unique coalition. Our biannual meetings were the most well-attended to date. Our membership is steadily growing. We added a LinkedIn platform where everyone can stay apprised of news and opportunities. And on a personal note, it’s been a privilege to serve as the VAEEC’s first Executive Director, coming on board back in April.

Of course, the horizon is where we are focused. Our positive momentum couldn’t be more timely, as we have several critical opportunities ahead of us:

  • Thanks to the establishment of the state energy efficiency board, we finally have a platform to address Virginia’s goal of a 10% reduction in energy use through efficiency and conservation. The goal was to be accomplished by 2022 (10% below 2006 levels), but to this point there has been no statewide plan to meet it.
  • The Commonwealth is grappling with how to address the federal Clean Power Plan, which calls for a significant reduction in carbon emissions from the nation’s power sector – a 30 percent reduction below 2005 levels by 2030. VAEEC will be communicating to lawmakers, regulators and others that energy efficiency offers a sensible, low-cost solution.

These are great opportunities, and we know that energy efficiency represents a rare “win-win” in energy policy — a common sense, nonpartisan, cost-effective solution that directly addresses our energy needs while creating significant benefits for the state. It is critical at this time that all Virginians come to a consensus on the need for an increased commitment to energy efficiency.

Fortunately, the VAEEC consists of an incredibly diverse and engaged membership that can accomplish remarkable feats by working together. Our membership is our greatest asset, its strength reflected in its diversity of businesses of all sizes, utilities, nonprofits, universities and local governments.

There is a tremendous amount of work to be done to turn our opportunities into results. But as we close out 2014 proud of the burgeoning energy efficiency industry in Virginia, the momentum coming out of Richmond, and the number and variety of interested parties as reflected in the VAEEC membership, there’s reason for great optimism for the future of energy efficiency in the Commonwealth. Thank you for all that you do, and we look forward to another great year working with you at the VAEEC in 2015.


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