Author: VAEEC Admin

VAEEC Formally Intervening in Dominion DSM Proceedings before the SCC

In October 2018, Dominion Energy proposed eleven new Demand-Response (DR) programs, ten of which are for energy efficiency, as part of their ten year commitment to energy efficiency programs under the Grid Transformation and Security Act of 2018 (GTSA). The application totals $225.8 million of the $870 million committed under the GTSA, and includes six residential programs and five non-residential programs:

  • Residential
    • Appliance Recycling Program: would incentivize consumers to recycle eligible freezers and refrigerators.
    • Home Energy Assessment Program: would facilitate a walk-through energy assessment and incentivize efficiency upgrades based on the findings.
    • Smart Thermostat Management Program (DR): would provide consumers who already have an eligible smart thermostat an annual incentive to enroll in a peak demand response program.
    • Smart Thermostat Management Program (EE): would provide a one-time rebate for customers who purchase an eligible smart thermostat.
    • Efficient Products Marketplace Program: would establish a rebate program for qualified efficient products purchased through participating retailers or an online marketplace.
    • Customer Engagement Program: would provide consumers with energy use data and energy saving suggestions.
  • Non-residential
    • Heating and Cooling Efficiency Program: would provide an incentive to qualifying customers to implement high efficiency heating and cooling technologies.
    • Lighting Systems & Controls Program: would provide an incentive to qualifying customers to implement efficient lighting technologies with verifiable savings.
    • Window Film Program: would incentivize customers to install solar reduction window film.
    • Office Program: would offer incentives for installation of a variety of energy efficiency measures related to building systems to small office facilities.
    • Small Manufacturing Program: would offer incentives for installation of a variety of energy efficiency measures to small manufacturing companies, primarily regarding compressed air systems.

If you are a VAEEC member, be sure to sign up for our webinar on March 5th for a deeper dive into the filing and a tutorial on how to prepare your own comments on these programs.

VAEEC has once again formally intervened in the proceeding before the State Corporation Commission (PUR-2018-00168) with Rachel Gold from the American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy (ACEEE) acting as our expert witness. We have again retained counsel from the UVA Environmental and Regulatory Law Clinic in support of the Company’s application.

In our pre-filed testimony, we provided strategies to improve the overall portfolio, provided analysis of the Company’s spending on EE programs as compared to other utilities in their peer group, and their progress towards spending $870M.

As part of our testimony, ACEEE performed a gap analysis to determine what other programs should be included in future DSM filings to reach $870M. This gap analysis identified five major program areas for future inclusion: Multi-Family, New Construction, Commercial & Industrial, Strategic Energy Management, and Midstream programs. These suggestions are listed in more detail on page 19 of our pre-filed testimony.

Our testimony includes additional analysis of Dominion’s spending on EE programs as compared to other utilities in their peer group, which is a group defined by the SCC. This group consists of six other southeastern utilities, including Duke Energy, APCo, and South Carolina Electric and Gas. According to that analysis, only the last two utilities listed spent less than Dominion on energy efficiency programs as a percentage of revenues in 2017, indicating that there is ample room for program expansion and a strong feasibility in meeting the $870M commitment.

Additionally, we do not support the Company’s inclusion of lost revenues in the $225M spending cap for energy efficiency programs since they are not costs associated with these specific programs. As stated in Ms. Gold’s testimony, “Lost revenue is not a cost of energy efficiency for the simple reason that these revenues still exist and are recovered by the utility from customers, even without any efficiency programs at all.” Including lost company revenues in the spending cap greatly reduces the amount of spending on actual energy-saving programs that benefit both the consumer and the companies that provide those services.

Finally, our pre-filed testimony also provided suggestions to maximize the effectiveness of the stakeholder process that was established under the GTSA last year. Building on the Stakeholder Framework VAEEC created last year in partnership with other groups like ACEEE, our testimony recommends setting clear objectives for the stakeholder group, focusing on three main areas: program design, evaluation, and policy. We also make recommendations based on the successful passage of SB 1605 and HB 2293, which will clarify the duration of the stakeholder process in addition to providing accountability measures for the group itself.

While our testimony has been filed, there is still ample time for non-intervenors to participate. The timeline below highlights some key dates, including due dates for written and oral public comments. We hope you will sign up for our webinar on March 5th to learn how to prepare your own comments for submission.

Timeline

February 15th: SCC Staff report due

March 5th: VAEEC members-only webinar, featuring Rachel Gold from ACEEE

March 13th: Written public comments due

March 20th: Proceeding before the SCC Commissioners, including public testimony

Late May/ Early June: SCC Final Order

Sign up today for our March 5th webinar!

If you are interested in researching further into this filing, you can use the search feature on the SCC website to read through public documents in the proceeding. Make sure to use the case number, PUR-2018-00168.

DOE plans wasteful rollback of Residential Lighting Program standards

The Department of Energy plan to roll back federal energy efficiency light bulb standards will have wide-reaching consequences in Virginia and nationwide. ACEEE released this statement yesterday, positing that the decrease in regulatory standards would lead to an additional 80 billion kWh of energy usage per year, “about the combined usage of all households in Pennsylvania and New Jersey,” as well as pollution increases equal to, “the annual CO2 emissions of more than seven million cars.”

An estimated 115,000 jobs were predicted to come from Phase 2 of the Residential Lighting Program, with the average household saving roughly $100 dollars per year in energy costs.

Moreover, study after study has shown that low-income populations are consistently hit hardest by both energy costs and health effects. 8.5% of all Virginia residents suffer from asthma, with low income communities and young children affected at the highest rates. The environmental ramifications of deregulation will reverse the decreasing trend of asthma-related hospitalizations in the state.

Not only does this have negative consequences moving forward, but the standard that is now being rescinded was the basis of several SCC decisions to reduce energy efficiency program budgets in 2018. Appalachian Power was driven to withdraw one of the five proposed residential energy efficiency programs based on the SCC staff interpretation of the federal lighting standards. The SCC also reduced Dominion Energy’s low-income program from five to three years on the same basis. If implemented, these programs would have expanded LED installations, and other measures, across the state, saving money and conserving energy for the consumer.

As ACEEE stated, the draft rule “will almost assuredly draw legal challenges,” since the current roll back is most likely illegal, based on a federal law prohibiting the DOE from weakening energy efficiency programs on products like light bulbs.

How to Get Involved

Your Guide to Advancing Energy Efficiency in the New Year2019 has just started, which means it’s time to ring in those new year resolutions! What better way than to boost your support of energy efficiency. If you are not already a member of VAEEC, your first step is to join. It’s really quick and, as a member, you receive benefits like access to exclusive resources such as legislative updates, networking events, the membership directory, and our job-opening board. If you are already a member, you can use your voice and get involved with the Board or one of our three advisory committees. Help us move the Virginia Commonwealth even further with Energy Efficiency this year!

A Season of Site Tours

In addition to our Fall Meeting and Awards Luncheon, VAEEC had a busy fall season partnering with our members to host site visits for legislators to see energy efficiency “in action” in their districts. Similarly to the site visits we did last year, we wanted to highlight for decision-makers how impactful policy decisions they make can be for their constituents.

Rosedale Manor Tour

In Falls Church, we partnered with VAEEC member, the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) to take Senator Richard “Dick” Saslaw on a tour of Rosedale Manor, a 96-unit affordable housing complex owned by the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA). The complex underwent a weatherization retrofit, including new attic insulation and installation of efficient LED light bulbs and faucet aerators through Energy Share, a Dominion Energy weatherization program funded through shareholder money, which was recently expanded under the Grid Transformation and Security Act of 2018 (SB 966).

It’s not often that you can see concrete, positive results of recent legislation with your own eyes. As part of the tour, Senator Saslaw walked through an apartment where the weatherization upgrades had been made and heard from Fairfax County officials about the projected cost-savings from these upgrades.

Additionally, VAEEC partnered with Viridiant again this year to host Senator Glen Sturtevant for a tour of the Virginia Supportive Housing, Studios II residences in South Richmond. Formerly a budget motel, this facility is a certified EarthCraft Multifamily residence, which houses formerly homeless individuals and provides them with temporary or permanent housing depending on individual needs.

Studios II Tour

Studios II has a variety of features that create a healthy and safe living environment for its tenants. The building envelope was tightened, outdated through-wall HVAC systems were replaced with ductless mini-splits, and solar panels were installed on the new flat roof to reduce the building’s energy load. Widening the existing building to increase the square footage of each unit to approximately 300 square feet ensured that each unit was able to meet accessibility requirements.

 

Stay tuned. VAEEC plans to host more of these legislative site visits throughout 2019. If you would like to get involved, contact info@vaeec.org.

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