Recap of Clean Energy Business Roundtable with Governor McAuliffe

September 23, 2016
Chelsea Harnish, VAEEC Executive Director

Virginia Governor Clean Energy Business RoundtableWhat an inspiring day at the Clean Energy Business Roundtable in Roanoke with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. Plenty of VAEEC members were represented, including Community Housing Partners, Trane, Virginia Community Capital, Oracle (OPower), Appalachian Power and Siemens.

You can track some of the action via #NewVAEconomy.

A few things we heard from folks in the room:

  • Governor McAuliffe kicked it off with a number of data-based arguments for energy efficiency and clean energy being cornerstones of the #NewVAEconomy, including: in 2013, the Clean Energy Census for Virginia found that clean energy- including wind, solar, EE, biomass and geothermal- was a $500,000 industry.  Looking at preliminary results from our 2016 census, the revenue from this industry jumped to $2.1 billion with EE making up $1.2 billion (and the census is still open).

There was a story from the Roanoke Times that includes that first stat and some other highlights from the day.

  • The cap for VA SAVES should be extended beyond $5M. Trane noted that school systems are looking to use this program, but the money will eventually run out. With the interest rate so low, schools could really do more with VA SAVES than current financing structure allows.
  • Monica Rokicki with Better Building Works stated that a building-science based approach is critical for any renewable energy and energy efficiency policy decisions. We checked in with Monica after the event and got a bit more detail from her: “We have to factor in health and safety. For example, many clients think insulation is a good thing for energy efficiency in buildings. They are right except that if they don’t account for the fire hazards like air leakage at the tops of buildings or old knob and tube wiring, they are creating a very dangerous situation. Likewise, doing work without measuring before and after ventilation can create very bad air quality issues — making existing ones worse or even creating new ones. This is why independent third party verification by certified auditors is critical.” Plus, it ensures that the energy savings are on par with what we predicted.
  • The Roanoke Chamber of Commerce (host of the event), emphasized the need for technical training in high schools. Many in the room agreed with this need and several stated that including facilities manager skills in these programs is key as many people in these positions are at or near retirement age with very few qualified candidates available to fill in.
  • Oracle Utilities (OPower was recently purchased by Oracle), which operates worldwide, called for the Department of Mines Minerals and Energy (DMME) to get more involved in SCC proceedings.
  • Community Housing Partners highlighted their workforce training programs and noted that baby boomers currently occupy a significant segment of energy-related jobs and they are starting to retire.
  • Appalachian Power chimed in with the utility perspective that customers have a hard time paying their bills, so collaboration is key to ensure those who are already struggling don’t have to pay more.

A huge thanks for to the Roundtable participants for taking time out of their busy schedules to share their experiences and expertise and to Governor McAuliffe and his staff for joining and supporting the Commonwealth’s clean energy and energy efficiency industries.

We were proud to help organize the Clean Energy Business Roundtable with our partners at Advanced Energy Economy, AJW Consultants, Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy (VAEEC member), U.S. Green Building Council (VAEEC member) and the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce.

#NewVAEconomy @GovofVirginia