Category: Industry News

VAEEC and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Efforts

On Friday, July 20, members of the VAEEC Steering Committee participated as project team members at the 2011 State Energy Program grant award meeting in Washington D.C. to discuss ways to accelerate commercial energy efficiency retrofits.  They met with representatives from Virginia and Maryland businesses, local governments, and energy offices to discuss the obstacles and opportunities in the energy efficiency market.

Meeting attendees were briefed on the VAEEC’s efforts to revise our state’s current Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) legislation. For PACE to work effectively, legislation needs to be amended to ensure PACE liens are senior to mortgages on the property. Lien seniority allows for third party capital to participate in the process, instead of relying solely on municipalities to fund these improvements. Addressing this political hurdle would require outreach and education with stakeholder groups to overcome.

Many of the stakeholders wanted to participate in a convening the largest commercial real estate owners in the NOVA area to begin a discussion on what it would take for them to invest in energy efficiency. As part of the SEP grant award, the Chesapeake Crescent Initiative will work with team members to hold these meetings in September – one for the general commercial market and one for the MUSH market. The VAEEC is particularly interested in learning more about the potential uptake for PACE loans from commercial property owners.

Industry Spotlight: Comverge

VAEEC is pleased to spotlight the companies, organizations, utilities and municipalities it works with to advance energy efficiency in Virginia.

August 2012 Industry Spotlight: Comverge

With more than 500 utility and 2,100 commercial customers, as well as five million residential deployments, Comverge brings unparalleled industry knowledge and experience to offer the most reliable, easy-to-use, and cost-effective intelligent energy management programs. We deliver the insight and control that enables energy providers and consumers to optimize their power usage through the industry’s only proven, comprehensive set of technology, services and information management solutions.

In what ways does your company promote or service energy efficiency in Virginia?

Comverge works with a variety of customers across the country to deploy intelligent energy management solutions that optimize the deployment and execution of demand response programs such as direct load control and dynamic pricing. In Virginia, Comverge provides services to Dominion Virginia Power by providing the technology, both hardware and software, to enable its AC cycling program. This program allows Dominion to call upon the AC cycling switches to reduce the energy load during peak demand hours.

What do you tell your customers is the value of energy efficiency?

The solutions that utilities incorporate into their energy efficiency and demand response programs are important resources.  Demand for energy is growing rapidly in areas of Virginia and it will take a portfolio of generation, efficiency and demand reduction efforts to ensure a reliable, affordable supply is available.

What innovations or trends do you hope to see in the near future? 

As technology and energy policy continue to evolve in Virginia, we will see exciting new energy management solutions. With the expansion of smart grid and advanced metering infrastructure throughout the country, we will have unprecedented information and control over the energy we use in both residential and commercial applications.  As the consumer learns more about where they are using energy, and when they are provided with the appropriate incentives, their usage habits will change to be more efficient.  Additionally, with advanced metering technology, distributed generation will become a reality and alternate energy sources such as solar and wind will be able to contribute more cost-effectively to the energy portfolio.

What do you hope to accomplish as part of the VAEEC? 

We hope to continue the great work begun by the Virginia utilities and the SCC in raising awareness across industry, consumer and political groups on the advantages of energy efficiency and demand response solutions.  We hope to combine our know-how, market reach and ideas with the stakeholders across the state to develop the compelling story of energy efficiency and promote efforts to enable the market to grow for this critical element of Virginia’s energy solution.

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.

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 Supports Efforts to Enhance, Expedite Cost-Saving Energy Efficiency Programs

For Immediate Release: March 6, 2012
Contact: Cynthia Adams,


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.

VAEEC Applauds Dominion’s Proposed Cost-Saving Energy Efficiency Programs

For Immediate Release: March 6, 2012
Contact: Cynthia Adams,


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:

“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.

ACEEE Report: U.S. Better Off “Thinking Big” about Energy Efficiency

WASHINGTON, D.C.—America is thinking too small when it comes to energy efficiency, while also making the mistake of “crowding out” economically beneficial investments in energy efficiency by focusing on riskier and more expensive bids to develop new energy sources, according to a major new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Read more here.

Bring on the Negawatt

Written by Cynthia Adams, Executive Director LEAP-VA and VAEEC Steering Committee Member

I work in the “energy” industry, which is an interesting thing in and of itself since the main focus of the nonprofit I run is to create energy through not using it. LEAP implements residential and commercial energy efficiency programs in central and northern Virginia. We seek to create the “negawatt” instead of the “megawatt.” It’s a bit of a stretch for a commodity, I know. A gallon of oil, we get. A cord of wood, no problem. A tank of propane, sure. Even a battery has something of substance to it, but a negawatt? What’s that?

In the classic economic terms of supply and demand, Virginia has more demand for power than we can supply in state – in terms of generation, that is. Our power companies purchase power from others who make it, and those electrons make their way through the power lines (known as the grid), all the way to our homes and businesses. Could be they were made by a turbine in a coal-fired plant in West Virginia, or a gas plant in Ohio, but we import a significant amount of power in our state. Like all who do not own the source or the supply chain, we are at risk to rising costs for that power we need.

Utilities like Dominion Virginia Power are building new power plants to meet the increasing demand and to upgrade or retire older, less efficient plants. In fact, our state’s regulatory body, the State Corporation Commission, recently approved Dominion building a new gas-fired power plant in Warren County. Because it costs money to create new power through generation ($1.1 billion for the Warren County plant), there is value to creating “new” power through removing the need for it. The negawatt can be bought and sold on the grid similar to other electrons. At LEAP we try to educate people on this whenever possible because the power plant we build in the aggregate through energy improvements brings with it many other benefits as well. It saves building owners money, and it employs people in the local community. Another power plant may keep the lights on, but it won’t improve the value of your home, free up operating capital, or help a neighbor make ends meet.

This legislative session the VAEEC is excited to see and support a bill in the Governor’s Energy Package which helps to remove a regulatory burden from utilities seeking to create energy efficiency programs for residents and businesses. Our State Corporation Commission approves or denies utilities’ requests to fund new programs, build new plants, run new power lines. Some worry about increasing rates if utilities create efficiency programs because the funding for them has to come from somewhere. In the end, we don’t keep rates lower because we do less efficiency – power companies will buy more and build more to make up for the deficit, and the $.65 added to the average residential customer’s monthly bill to fund the Warren power plant is a case in point. Energy efficiency costs $.03 – $.04 a kWh to fund, vs. the $.08 – $.10 kWh for a natural gas plant like the one in Warren County. Either way, we pay the bill (plant or program), and you don’t need to be a professional in the energy field to figure out the power you don’t use is a heck of a lot cheaper than the power you have to make.

VAEEC Applauds Governor McDonnell’s Energy Legislative Package

Charlottesville, VA – January 5, 2012 – Today, Governor Bob McDonnell unveiled his upcoming energy legislative priorities for the 2012 Session of the Virginia General Assembly.  The Virginia Energy Efficiency Council (VAEEC) applauds the effort of the Governor on his “all of the above” approach which includes energy conservation and efficiency.

The Governor includes a proposal to eliminate regulatory uncertainty on how energy efficiency programs are approved by the State Corporation Commission (SCC).  This new legislation allows the SCC to approve energy efficiency programs which pass three out of four cost benefit tests.  In addition, this proposal aids utilities in promoting and offering additional energy efficiency programs to low-income individuals and seniors.  This bill would apply both to the electric and natural gas markets.

“The VAEEC approves of the energy efficiency proposal in the Governor’s energy legislative package and looks forward to working with him, bill patrons Delegates Ware and Cosgrove and Senators Watkins and Puckett, and others in the General Assembly to pass such needed legislation.  Energy efficiency is an engine of economic growth – creating jobs in Virginia while consumers save money on their energy bills.  It is a win-win situation,” said Cynthia Adams, Executive Director of LEAP-VA and founder of the VAEEC.

“With this legislation residents of Virginia will have more opportunities to improve their home’s energy performance and reduce their utility bills,” states Bill Greenleaf, Executive Director of the Richmond Region Energy Alliance.

“The Governor is doing the right thing for the Commonwealth and its residents,” said Paul Orzeske, president of Honeywell Building Solutions. “Generating ‘negawatts’ — or using less — is the cheapest and greenest source of energy. Efforts to increase efficiency also boost energy security and put people to work. The Governor’s proposals will encourage more programs that help homeowners and businesses trim utility consumption and costs, putting Virginia on the path to becoming a preeminent leader in energy efficiency.


About the VAEEC

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.

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