Accelerating Energy Efficiency in the Commonwealth

Cynthia Adams
Executive Director, Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP); VAEEC Steering Committee

We’ve come a long way from our first Energy Efficiency Roundtable a year ago. Energy efficiency policies, initiatives and funding have definitely picked up steam, including the following:

  • Formation of the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council
  • A second and third Department of Energy competitive award to grow energy efficiency to our Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (2010 for residential programs, 2011 for commercial programs, 2012 for a state-owned building program)
  • Successful passage of the energy efficiency bill included in Governor McDonnell’s energy package
  • Launch of new residential programs in three regions of the state funded by grants from a State Energy Program award
  • State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) approval of new residential and commercial energy efficiency programs for Dominion Virginia Power
  • Old Dominion Electric Cooperative and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative working together to launch a residential energy efficiency pilot with the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP)

That’s just a sampling of what’s happened here in Virginia. These efforts have been complemented by other developments on a national scale, including the Green Button initiative to make sharing utility data easier and the national launch of the Home Energy Score, an energy assessment and MPG-like rating for homes.

Even as we celebrate the impressive pace and scope of energy efficiency activity, we have much more to do to achieve the state’s voluntary goal of a 10% efficiency gain from the 2006 baseline by 2022. To overcome hurdles that remain, it is all the more important that we help our communities and the legislators who represent them understand the lower cost per kilowatt hour energy efficiency can deliver compared to other resource options. We must be vigilant as we champion the “pros” of energy efficiency – like the local jobs it supports and the potential for reinvesting dollars that might be spent on energy bills back into local households and businesses.

And key questions linger as to how to weave together energy efficiency initiatives implemented here in Virginia. How can we best coordinate to make more cost effective our efforts? How can we leverage marketing, contractor approvals, certifications and trainings? How can we best help business or residential customers stay informed of their options for rebates or tax credits – local, utility, national? How can building owners capture the value of those improvements should they decide to sell their property at a future date? Who will independently verify the right improvements were made to the level of quality that the projected efficiency gains become actual?

Most business owners will agree that a strategic plan is a critical part of successfully running a commercial enterprise. Such a plan for synergizing efforts of stakeholders and partners makes sense. This begs the question, “What is our strategic plan for energy efficiency in Virginia?” The VAEEC must both ask and help answer this question. We stakeholders in Virginia’s energy efficiency future must expand the internal dialogue on coordinating our efforts and make recommendations to our state and local governments, the State Corporation Commission, and other interested parties on what could be done to support consistent messaging and growth of energy efficiency programs, particularly in the residential sector. This is one important reason why the VAEEC is needed – to develop a consensus voice on energy efficiency industry issues – and I look forward to conversation on this subject with my colleagues during our fall VAEEC meeting.

Accelerating Energy Efficiency in the Commonwealth

Accelerating Energy Efficiency in the Commonwealth

Cynthia Adams
Executive Director, Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP); VAEEC Steering Committee

We’ve come a long way from our first Energy Efficiency Roundtable a year ago. Energy efficiency policies, initiatives and funding have definitely picked up steam, including the following:

  • Formation of the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council
  • A second and third Department of Energy competitive award to grow energy efficiency to our Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (2010 for residential programs, 2011 for commercial programs, 2012 for a state-owned building program)
  • Successful passage of the energy efficiency bill included in Governor McDonnell’s energy package
  • Launch of new residential programs in three regions of the state funded by grants from a State Energy Program award
  • State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) approval of new residential and commercial energy efficiency programs for Dominion Virginia Power
  • Old Dominion Electric Cooperative and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative working together to launch a residential energy efficiency pilot with the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP)

That’s just a sampling of what’s happened here in Virginia. These efforts have been complemented by other developments on a national scale, including the Green Button initiative to make sharing utility data easier and the national launch of the Home Energy Score, an energy assessment and MPG-like rating for homes.

Even as we celebrate the impressive pace and scope of energy efficiency activity, we have much more to do to achieve the state’s voluntary goal of a 10% efficiency gain from the 2006 baseline by 2022. To overcome hurdles that remain, it is all the more important that we help our communities and the legislators who represent them understand the lower cost per kilowatt hour energy efficiency can deliver compared to other resource options. We must be vigilant as we champion the “pros” of energy efficiency – like the local jobs it supports and the potential for reinvesting dollars that might be spent on energy bills back into local households and businesses.

And key questions linger as to how to weave together energy efficiency initiatives implemented here in Virginia. How can we best coordinate to make more cost effective our efforts? How can we leverage marketing, contractor approvals, certifications and trainings? How can we best help business or residential customers stay informed of their options for rebates or tax credits – local, utility, national? How can building owners capture the value of those improvements should they decide to sell their property at a future date? Who will independently verify the right improvements were made to the level of quality that the projected efficiency gains become actual?

Most business owners will agree that a strategic plan is a critical part of successfully running a commercial enterprise. Such a plan for synergizing efforts of stakeholders and partners makes sense. This begs the question, “What is our strategic plan for energy efficiency in Virginia?” The VAEEC must both ask and help answer this question. We stakeholders in Virginia’s energy efficiency future must expand the internal dialogue on coordinating our efforts and make recommendations to our state and local governments, the State Corporation Commission, and other interested parties on what could be done to support consistent messaging and growth of energy efficiency programs, particularly in the residential sector. This is one important reason why the VAEEC is needed – to develop a consensus voice on energy efficiency industry issues – and I look forward to conversation on this subject with my colleagues during our fall VAEEC meeting.

Report: Major New U.S. Energy Find Could Offset Nearly a Quarter of Nation's Power Use

(June 2012) America now has a major new source of energy that could rial the contribution made to the economy by natural gas, coal and nuclear power, according to a report released by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), which concludes that up to about a quarter (22 percent) of current US energy consumption could be replaced by what experts are calling “intelligent efficiency.”

Read the story. 

Policy Update from 2012 Legislative Session

2012 General Assembly

The General Assembly convened on January 11, 2012 for a 60-day long session.  It adjourned Sine Die on March 11th, but went immediately into Special Session to further discuss the budget.  The General Assembly will reconvene on April 18th for “Veto Session.”  Below are highlights from the Session.

 

 Bills that passed:

  • Energy Efficiency Programs (SB 493 Watkinsand HB 894 L. Ware) – Mandates that the State Corporation Commission (SCC) shall not use only one cost-benefit test when conducting approvals of demand-side management programs for both  electric and gas utilities.  All four tests (RIM, TRC, Utility and Participant) shall be evaluated.  This bill affects those applications filed after March 8th
  • Natural Gas Infrastructure Expansion for Economic Development (HB 559 D. Marshall and SB 511 Wagner) – Allows natural gas utilities to expand infrastructure as necessary to provide natural gas to economic development projects where it is not already available and when a project developer commits to at least a five-year contract for natural gas use.  
  • Improved Regulatory Approval Process for Electric Transmission (HB 587 Merricks and SB 418 Stanley) – Authorizes a utility to seek approval for a 138kv transmission line from either the State Corporation Commission or the locality or localities in which the transmission line will be located. These transmission lines are frequently used for economic development projects.  
  • Enable Research and Development for Renewable Energy (HB 1102 J. Miller and SB 413 Norment)- Encourages investment in renewable energy research and development by providing renewable energy certificates to utilities for investment in research projects to advance renewable energy technologies. The proposal will allow a utility to meet no more than 20 percent of its annual voluntary renewable energy goal with investments in such research and development projects. The awarded certificates will be based on the amount of the investment divided by the average price of a Tier 1 and Tier 2 renewable energy certificate in PJM, the regional transmission organization of which Virginia’s electric utilities are members, for the previous year.
  • High Performance Buildings Act (HB 1167 Jones, SB 160 Petersen) –  Requires executive branch agencies and institutions entering the design phase for the construction of a new building greater than 5,000 gross square feet in size, or renovating such a building where the cost of renovation exceeds 50 percent of the value of the building, to conform to Virginia Energy Conservation and Environmental Standards developed by the Department of General Services considering the U.S. Green Building Council (LEED) green building rating and other appropriate requirements.

 

Failed to pass:

  • Federal residential energy efficiency standards (HB 27 R. Marshall) Exempts any residential building from the application of federal legislation relating to residential energy efficiency standards if such building complies with the Statewide Uniform Building Code. Except to the extent required by the Statewide Uniform Building Code, the owner of such a building shall not be required by the federal government to (i) have an energy efficiency analysis conducted on his residence, (ii) have his residence meet federal energy efficiency standards, (iii) participate in a building performance labeling program, (iv) make modifications to the residence in accordance with federal legislation, or (v) post a label showing the energy efficiency of his home prior to its sale. Failed to pass Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.
  • Renewable energy portfolio standard (HB 69 Englin) – Requires each investor-owned electric utility and distribution cooperative to participate in a renewable energy portfolio standard program commencing with calendar year 2013. Under the program, each utility is required to generate renewable energy or to purchase renewable energy certificates, or both, in amounts that start in 2013 at three percent of the total electric energy sold in the base year of 2007 and that increase to 20 percent of such amount in 2020 and thereafter. Failed to pass House Commerce and Labor Committee. 
  • Energy conservation and efficiency goal (HB 70 Englin) –  Establishes a statewide goal of reducing the consumption of electric energy within the Commonwealth, through energy conservation and efficiency actions taken by government, electric utilities, and retail customers, by 2025 to a level that is 19 percent less than the quantity of electricity that would reasonably be projected to be consumed in the Commonwealth in 2025 in the absence of such actions.  Failed to pass House Commerce and Labor Committee.
  • Electric utilities; retail competition; purchases from net metering sellers (HB 129 Kilgore) –  Authorizes individual retail customers who are eligible customer-generators under Virginia’s net energy metering program to purchase electricity provided 100 percent from renewable energy exclusively for their own consumption from a net metering seller.  Failed to pass Senate Commerce and Labor.
  • Electric utilities; integrated resource plans (SB 381 McEachin) – Provides that an electric utility’s integrated resource plan should identify a portfolio of electric generation supply resources that is most likely to provide the electric generation supply needed to meet forecasted demand, net of any reductions from demand side programs, so that over the long term the utility will continue to provide reliable service at reasonable prices that take into consideration public health impacts. Failed to pass Senate Commerce and Labor. 

Update from 2012 General Assembly

2012 General Assembly

The General Assembly convened on January 11, 2012 for a 60-day long session.  It adjourned Sine Die on March 11th, but went immediately into Special Session to further discuss the budget.  The General Assembly will reconvene on April 18th for “Veto Session.”  Below are highlights from the Session.

 

 Bills that passed:

  • Energy Efficiency Programs (SB 493 Watkinsand HB 894 L. Ware) – Mandates that the State Corporation Commission (SCC) shall not use only one cost-benefit test when conducting approvals of demand-side management programs for both  electric and gas utilities.  All four tests (RIM, TRC, Utility and Participant) shall be evaluated.  This bill affects those applications filed after March 8th
  • Natural Gas Infrastructure Expansion for Economic Development (HB 559 D. Marshall and SB 511 Wagner) – Allows natural gas utilities to expand infrastructure as necessary to provide natural gas to economic development projects where it is not already available and when a project developer commits to at least a five-year contract for natural gas use.  
  • Improved Regulatory Approval Process for Electric Transmission (HB 587 Merricks and SB 418 Stanley) – Authorizes a utility to seek approval for a 138kv transmission line from either the State Corporation Commission or the locality or localities in which the transmission line will be located. These transmission lines are frequently used for economic development projects.  
  • Enable Research and Development for Renewable Energy (HB 1102 J. Miller and SB 413 Norment)- Encourages investment in renewable energy research and development by providing renewable energy certificates to utilities for investment in research projects to advance renewable energy technologies. The proposal will allow a utility to meet no more than 20 percent of its annual voluntary renewable energy goal with investments in such research and development projects. The awarded certificates will be based on the amount of the investment divided by the average price of a Tier 1 and Tier 2 renewable energy certificate in PJM, the regional transmission organization of which Virginia’s electric utilities are members, for the previous year.
  • High Performance Buildings Act (HB 1167 Jones, SB 160 Petersen) –  Requires executive branch agencies and institutions entering the design phase for the construction of a new building greater than 5,000 gross square feet in size, or renovating such a building where the cost of renovation exceeds 50 percent of the value of the building, to conform to Virginia Energy Conservation and Environmental Standards developed by the Department of General Services considering the U.S. Green Building Council (LEED) green building rating and other appropriate requirements.

 

Failed to pass:

  • Federal residential energy efficiency standards (HB 27 R. Marshall) –  Exempts any residential building from the application of federal legislation relating to residential energy efficiency standards if such building complies with the Statewide Uniform Building Code. Except to the extent required by the Statewide Uniform Building Code, the owner of such a building shall not be required by the federal government to (i) have an energy efficiency analysis conducted on his residence, (ii) have his residence meet federal energy efficiency standards, (iii) participate in a building performance labeling program, (iv) make modifications to the residence in accordance with federal legislation, or (v) post a label showing the energy efficiency of his home prior to its sale. Failed to pass Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.
  • Renewable energy portfolio standard (HB 69 Englin) – Requires each investor-owned electric utility and distribution cooperative to participate in a renewable energy portfolio standard program commencing with calendar year 2013. Under the program, each utility is required to generate renewable energy or to purchase renewable energy certificates, or both, in amounts that start in 2013 at three percent of the total electric energy sold in the base year of 2007 and that increase to 20 percent of such amount in 2020 and thereafter. Failed to pass House Commerce and Labor Committee. 
  • Energy conservation and efficiency goal (HB 70 Englin) –  Establishes a statewide goal of reducing the consumption of electric energy within the Commonwealth, through energy conservation and efficiency actions taken by government, electric utilities, and retail customers, by 2025 to a level that is 19 percent less than the quantity of electricity that would reasonably be projected to be consumed in the Commonwealth in 2025 in the absence of such actions.  Failed to pass House Commerce and Labor Committee.
  • Electric utilities; retail competition; purchases from net metering sellers (HB 129 Kilgore) –  Authorizes individual retail customers who are eligible customer-generators under Virginia’s net energy metering program to purchase electricity provided 100 percent from renewable energy exclusively for their own consumption from a net metering seller.  Failed to pass Senate Commerce and Labor.
  • Electric utilities; integrated resource plans (SB 381 McEachin) – Provides that an electric utility’s integrated resource plan should identify a portfolio of electric generation supply resources that is most likely to provide the electric generation supply needed to meet forecasted demand, net of any reductions from demand side programs, so that over the long term the utility will continue to provide reliable service at reasonable prices that take into consideration public health impacts. Failed to pass Senate Commerce and Labor. 

VAEEC Applauds Approval of Dominion’s Cost-Saving Energy Efficiency Programs for Residents, Businesses

For Immediate Release: March 6, 2012
Contact: Cynthia Adams, 434.825.0232, cynthia@vaeec.org

 

Virginia Energy Efficiency Council Applauds Dominion’s Proposed Cost-Saving Energy Efficiency Programs for Residents, Businesses

State Corporation Commission Authorizes New Demand-Side Management Programs

Richmond, Virginia – The trade organization Virginia Energy Efficiency Council (VAEEC) this week applauded Dominion Virginia Power and the State Corporation Commission (SCC) for proposing and approving, respectively, a suite of residential energy efficiency programs. In early March several representatives from VAEEC testified before the SCC in support of these Demand-Side Management initiatives – including a “Residential Bundle Program” that supports Home Energy Check-Ups, duct testing and sealing and heat pump tune-up and upgrades – that will save consumers money, help Virginia meet its 10% efficiency goal by 2022, and hold down energy costs whether or not you participate in the program by reducing the need for costly new power plants.

The SCC, which authorized the measures Monday, posted a press release online with details: http://scc.virginia.gov/newsrel/e_dvpdsm_12.aspx.

“The State Corporation Commission opened the door for expanding the energy efficiency industry in Virginia by approving this suite of initiatives from Dominion, which will help participating homeowners lower bills and stimulate the local building trades,” said Cynthia Adams, Executive Director of the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) and member of the VAEEC Steering Committee. “Clearly, the energy we have to create is more expensive than the energy we don’t use.  Energy efficiency is the cheapest resource for energy, and we applaud Dominion for proposing programs that support their customers in choosing it.”

“Efficiency First is pleased to see the SCC recognize the importance of Demand-Side Management Initiatives by approving Dominion Virginia Power’s latest proposal.  These first steps lay a solid foundation for future programs to include the full range of energy efficiency measures, such as air sealing and insulation. The strength of these programs offer tangible results to homeowners and are a boost to the local contractor community,” said Aneil Kumar of Efficiency First, Virginia.

Even with approval and implementation of these new programs, Virginia falls short of meeting the General Assembly’s goal of 10% energy savings by 2022.  The VAEEC and its business and stakeholder members actively promote efforts that expand and enhance ways for homeowners and businesses to help close that gap.

VA Energy Efficiency Council Supports Dominion’s Energy Efficiency Programs in SCC Testimony

For Immediate Release: March 6, 2012
Contact: Cynthia Adams, 434.825.0232, cynthia@vaeec.org

 

Virginia Energy Efficiency Council Supports Efforts to Enhance, Expedite Cost-Saving Energy Efficiency Programs for Residents, Businesses

Hearing Before State Corporation Commission Considers New Demand-Side Management Programs from Dominion

Richmond, Virginia – Several representatives from the trade organization Virginia Energy Efficiency Council (VAEEC) will testify today before the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) in support of a suite of residential and commercial energy efficiency programs proposed by Dominion Virginia Power. VAEEC believes these Demand-Side Management programs – including a “Residential Bundle Program” that supports Home Energy Check-Ups, duct testing and sealing and heat pump tune-up and upgrades – would save consumers money, help Virginia meet its 10% efficiency goal by 2022, and hold down energy costs whether or not you participate in the program by reducing the need for costly new power plants.

“Current regulatory burdens have long put the brakes on sensible, cost-saving energy efficiency programs. The SCC can speed that up by approving this suite of initiatives from Dominion that incorporates best practices and proven results from across country,” said Cynthia Adams, Executive Director of the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) and a member of the VAEEC Steering Committee who testifies before the SCC today.

“Clearly, the energy we have to create is more expensive than the energy we don’t use.  Energy efficiency is the cheapest resource for energy.  We support the funding of Dominion’s programs as they give consumers the opportunity to choose it,” says Adams in her prepared testimony.

“The Richmond Region Energy Alliance supports Dominion’s DSM programs as the incentives will help homeowners lower the energy bills and will help towards meeting the state’s energy efficiency goal of reducing residential electricity consumption by 10 percent by 2022, based on usage during the year 2006,” said Bill Greenleaf, Executive Director of the Richmond Region Energy Alliance and member of the VAEEC Steering Committee who also testified today.

 

The Virginia Energy Efficiency Council is a newly formed trade organization whose mission is to promote policies, programs, and technologies that expand investment in energy efficiency, our most affordable domestic energy resource. www.vaeec.org

1 19 20 21 22