The Commonwealth’s energy efficiency community gathered on October 4th and 5th for the VAEEC’s annual Energy Efficiency Forum. Thank you to our sponsors, speakers, award winners, and attendees for making this event a great success!
Day one was fully virtual in an effort to make the event more accessible and to provide a diverse array of speakers from across the country. It consisted of a keynote address and four breakout sessions:
Keynote Address: Dr. Bob Holsworth is a Managing Partner at DecideSmart, a consulting firm that provides strategic solutions for complex challenges. Bringing decades of experience in the political sphere, he provided an analysis of Virginia’s election landscape and what that can mean for the Commonwealth’s clean energy future.
“Regardless of the election results, there will be a slate of new legislators. Education will be important.” – Dr. Bob Holsworth, DecideSmart
Technology:What’s New and What’s Next?: The panelists in this session discussed heat pumps and heat pump hot water heaters, demand response AI programs, and data center cooling technologies. The discussion helped to sift facts from fiction and suss out what the on-the-ground realities are, and what we can look forward to in the future. Speakers included Richard Anderson (Siemens), Millie Knowlton (CPower), Andrew Grigsby (Viridiant), and Adam Sledd (Dominion Energy Innovation Center, moderator).
“The question we try to answer is, how can we leverage technology to help humans?” – Richard Anderson, Siemens
Implementing Green Building Policies in a Dillon Rule State: As a Dillon Rule state, Virginia localities are limited as to what they can and cannot mandate. However, jurisdictions are finding creative ways to make progress happen in their communities. Join speakers from Arlington County and the City of Alexandria as they discuss their green building policies and programs, and how they have established minimum standards for new development and major renovations. This was an interactive session where audience members were encouraged to engage with speakers to learn how to implement their own green building policies. VAEEC Board member, Bill Eger (Arlington County), moderated the panel, which included Arlington County’s Paul Roman and the City of Alexandria’s Valerie Amor, and Robert Kerns.
“The idea of ‘business as usual’, ‘we’ve always done it this way’, is one of the biggest challenges in getting developers on board. We’ve got to embrace new ways of doing things to implement green building strategies.” – Valerie Amor, City of Alexandria
Rural Energy Efficiency: No Town Left Behind: According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 88% of Virginia is considered rural. However, this population is often overlooked in energy efficiency policy and programs. This panel focused on how to reach rural communities and what opportunities are available to them. Speakers included Adia Holland (U.S. Department of Agriculture), Lance Hostutler (Optimum Building Solutions LLC), Will Payne (Energy Delta SWVA), and VAEEC Board Vice Chair, Leigh Anne Ratliff (Trane Technologies, moderator).
Case Study Session: Green Building Certifications: Green buildings are environmentally responsible, resource-efficient, and create healthier, more comfortable spaces. Numerous certification systems exist to assess a building’s sustainability and designate it as a green building. This case study session was designed for attendees to benefit from shared knowledge and experience through presentations and audience Q&A. The certifications featured included EarthCraft, Zero-Energy Ready, and Pearl Certification for single-family homes, multifamily buildings, and whole communities. The session was moderated by VAEEC Board member, Bryna Dunn (Moseley Architects), and speakers consisted of Stephen Dareing (Viridiant), Jay Epstein (Healthy Communities), and Casey Murphy (Pearl Certification).
“I want to make low-performing homes the green avocado refrigerators of 2023.” – Casey Murphy, Pearl Certification
After the virtual day wrapped up, attendees had the opportunity to join one of two regional happy hours to further connect with other energy efficiency professionals. This was the first time we have offered a regional happy hour in conjunction with a virtual event. What a great way to spend 2023 #EnergyEfficiencyDay!
Attendees gathered in person for day two at the University of Richmond Jepson Alumni Center in Richmond. The day began with an opening presentation from Executive Director, Chelsea Harnish. Attendees were provided with updates on the organization’s 2023 accomplishments and our 2024 priorities, as well as an overview of the Commonwealth’s energy efficiency industry. The day also included a keynote address, a plenary panel, the eighth annual Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Awards ceremony, and an on-site reception.
Keynote Address:Attendees were then treated to a keynote address from Dr. Karma Sawyer, Director of Electricity Infrastructure & Buildings (EI&B) Division at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL). In this role, Dr. Sawyer is responsible for shaping and managing a vision and strategy to ensure that PNNL addresses the U.S. Department of Energy’s most important energy efficiency, clean energy, and electricity infrastructure challenges. She discussed energy efficiency as it relates to cutting-edge research, building codes, market transformation, federal funding, and emerging technologies, with a specific focus on equity.
The Energy Efficiency Workforce Initiative: A Holistic Path to Workforce Development:After a break for networking and snacks, attendees came back together for the plenary session focused on the VAEEC’s Energy Efficiency Workforce Initiative. For the last two years, the VAEEC has been developing the EEWI to address Virginia’s growing workforce needs. This panel provided updates from staff and our expert partners as we build out each piece of the puzzle – recruitment, training, placement, and sustainable retention. Speakers included Laura Hanson (Tidewater Community College), Phil Hull (CHP Energy Solutions), Michael Flanagan (Quick AC Quote), Crystal McDonald (D.C. Sustainable Energy Utility), and Rebecca Hui (Virginia Energy Efficiency Council, moderator).
Energizing Efficiency Campaign & Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Awards Ceremony:Next, we had the honor of hosting our eighth annual Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Awards ceremony. We started off by highlighting the 18 submissions to our inaugural Energizing Efficiency Campaign. Case studies can be viewed for each of these participating projects or programs on our 2023 Energizing Efficiency Campaign page. From these 18 submissions, five were chosen by the VAEEC’s Education & Events Committee to receive a 2023 Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Award for their incredible energy efficiency contributions. For information on each winning project or program, visit our 2023 Awards page.
The event concluded with an on-site networking reception sponsored by Dominion Energy. It is always a pleasure to connect with many of our members and others in the industry face-to-face, and this was no exception.
Thank you to our sponsors, speakers, award winners, and event attendees for making this one of our best events to date. Click here to view photos of the event. Additional event information, including speaker biographies and sponsor features, can be found in the event program.
Event attendees will receive recordings for each of the four breakout sessions in the post-event email. Presentation PDFs can be viewed at the links above.
Virginia’s High-Performance Buildings Act (HB2001) was signed into law in 2021, with the goal to drive more efficient, resilient, and future-proof buildings. The law updated the building performance standards for state/public buildings by adding electric vehicle charging and infrastructure and utility metering requirements. It also created new building performance standards for local governments.
Since the act was introduced in the General Assembly, the VAEEC and key partners have been working with the bill patron and others to clarify the requirements and identify potential updates to the existing law. This included working with the Department of General Services (DGS) to update the Virginia Energy Conservation and Environmental Standards (VEES) for the first time since 2012.
In September of this year, we held two building performance roundtable discussions with localities, state agencies, schools, architecture and design firms, engineering firms, and energy service companies. The goals were to educate stakeholders about the requirements and identify ways to update the law so that it better suits the needs of the intended audience.
VAEEC Board members Elizabeth Beardsley (U.S. Green Building Council) and Bryna Dunn (Moseley Architects) started off the roundtables with an overview of the law and the pathways to compliance.
By July 1, 2021, state agency buildings were mandated to:
Be designed, constructed, verified, and operated to comply with a high-performance building certification program,
Comply with VEES,
Have sufficient zero-emission vehicle infrastructure, and
Include features that measure energy consumption and associated carbon emissions.
In the law, there is an option to exceed the above design and construction standards with prior written approval from the Director of DGS. The Director of DGS can also grant exemptions for specific projects if it is impractical to build or renovate to the standards. HB2001 also added a new reporting requirement for state agencies: an annual report is due to the Governor by January 1st detailing the energy efficiency and associated carbon emissions metrics for each applicable building built or renovated during the prior fiscal year.
Beginning July 1, 2021, buildings for localities with populations of 100,000 or more must:
Be designed, constructed, verified, and operated to comply with one of three high-performance building certification programs (LEED certification, Green Globes Certification, or VEES verification),
Have sufficient zero-emission vehicle charging and fueling infrastructure,
Include features that measure the energy consumption and associated carbon emissions, and
Incorporate appropriate resilience and distributed energy features.
Remaining localities will need to abide by these requirements beginning July 1, 2023.
Localities can seek an exemption if it is impractical to build or renovate to the standards. Local governments also have the option to adopt their own green design and construction program with standards that are more stringent than those required by law.
The above mandates apply to new buildings over 5,000 square feet and renovations where the cost of the renovation exceeds 50% of the value of the building. Smaller projects (those that are less than 20,000 gross square feet in size) have the option to achieve an ENERGY STAR certification with the implementation of mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and envelope commissioning instead.
The three compliance pathways are LEED certification, Green Globes Certification, or VEES verification. LEED v4 is the newest version of the LEED green building certification. A building must comply with a set of prerequisites, but then you can select a minimum number of criteria depending on what makes the most sense for your building. Similarly, Green Globes provides the option to pick and choose a minimum number of criteria, but this certification program does not have prerequisites. VEES follows the International Green Construction Code, so a building must comply with all of the stated requirements.
Guidance, resources, and support exist to help state agencies and local governments navigate and meet the law’s requirements. Starting October 1st, the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) will be providing technical assistance with policy creation and stakeholder engagement. They will also be providing technical assistance and training on the Building Energy Analysis Manager (BEAM) tool, which helps states and communities achieve building energy policy goals.
2020 has been a unique year for sure. However, looking back, VAEEC and Virginia’s energy efficiency industry saw several monumental wins this year. In fact, Virginia had its best year on the ACEEE’s annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. For the first time ever, we broke into the Top 25 and Virginia was ranked #1 in the Southeast. This is a reflection of the hard work and efforts of the Commonwealth’s energy efficiency industry throughout 2020. We look forward to continuing to advance energy efficiency even further in the new year.
For our part, the VAEEC worked tirelessly with fellow stakeholders to pass several key pieces of historic energy efficiency legislation, including the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA). This landmark law will pave the way for a carbon-free Virginia by 2045, ensuring investments in energy efficiency, solar, wind, and more. The VCEA mandates 5% energy savings from the investor-owned utilities by 2025, marking Virginia as just the second state in the Southeast to establish a mandatory stand-alone Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS). Additional laws established mandatory benchmarking for state buildings, enabled an on-bill tariff program for electric co-ops, and added an energy audit to the residential disclosure during homebuying. We also saw the passage of a law permitting the state energy office to develop a statewide Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy, or C-PACE, program.
The VAEEC also advanced energy efficiency in the Commonwealth beyond legislation. We identified the need to change Dominion Energy’s definition of low-income eligibility requirements and worked with our members to make it happen. The new definition will allow weatherization providers to serve even more households across Virginia. Three localities passed C-PACE ordinances and one launched a program. Blower door testing and increased ceiling insulation requirements were included in the recently adopted final draft of the Uniform Statewide Building Code.
At the end of each year, the VAEEC completes a program evaluation, which goes hand-in-hand with our Strategic Plan to answer:
What impacts is the organization trying to achieve?
What strategies will help us achieve our goals?
How will we know if our work is successful?
As you might remember, VAEEC staff and Board members met last summer to develop our 2020-2022 Strategic Plan. Taking feedback from our members, we created focus areas for our next three years of work:
Advancement of New Energy-Efficiency Technologies
Utility Programs and VCEA Implementation
Our evaluation focuses on each of these areas, prompts us to think about the goals, strategies, and metrics for each, and assesses whether or not we are on track to achieve our goals. To provide our membership with a snapshot of these goals and whether or not we are on track to achieve them, we are sharing our program evaluation infographics. Take a look below to get a glimpse of all of the EE advancements we were able to achieve in this unprecedented year.
To learn more about the VAEEC’s 2020 achievements, watch our short video below.
Our work would not be successful without the support of our members. Thank you for your dedication to the organization and to Virginia’s energy efficiency industry. We look forward to working with you in the new year to make 2021 our strongest year for EE yet.
Happy Monday, members! At long last, the General Assembly Session has come to an end. It’s fair to say that this has been the most intense and momentous session for energy policy in decades, and we are incredibly happy to be a part of the progress.
As we reported on Friday, SB 851, the Virginia Clean Economy Act, has PASSED! The bill has received media coverage in the Washington Post and GreenTech Media, and you can read our press release on this landmark legislation in our press room. The VCEA mandates 5% energy savings by 2025, with the SCC determining future savings in three-year blocks. The VCEA also removes the automatic opt out for industrial customers above 500kW and instead allows industrial customers above 1MW to opt out only after they have proven to the SCC that they are achieving energy savings through their own energy efficiency programs.
So what does that mean for the overlapping and/or conflicting bills that were heard in Session?
HB 1526, the House version of the VCEA, passed through Conference with language identical to its Senate counterpart (SB 851).
HB 1576 (Industrial opt-out) and HB 575 (EE stakeholder group) were both passed by the General Assembly, but as their language mirrors part of the VCEA, they will be subject to an internal review by the Governor’s office during the veto period.
HB 1450 (standalone EERS) never made it to conference before the end of Session, as that language was identical to the VCEA.
We are excited to share that the following bills have also passed:
SB 754 provides a regulatory framework for electric cooperatives to seek approval from the State Corporation Commission to establish an On-Bill Tariff program for customers who want to perform energy efficiency upgrades to their residences. The cooperatives are already preparing for next steps on this program and have asked VAEEC to play a role in establishing the mandated stakeholder process, which we will keep our members apprised of.
SB 963 requires each state agency to track energy and water consumption at 100% of their facilities by 2025. This goal was set at 80% by 2025 before leaving the Senate but was changed back to 100% when it left the house. It is possible that the Governor will amend this bill to change it back to 80%. VAEEC member, U.S. Green Building Council was instrumental in getting this bill passed and has secured in-person training opportunities for Virginia state agencies from staff at EPA’s Energy Star program.
HB 518 and SB 628 ensure that energy audits will now be listed in the VA Residential Disclosure Act as an option for homebuyers during the homebuying process. These bills have already been signed by the Governor.
After receiving the Governor’s signature, all bills will take effect on July 1st.
Thank you to everyone who cheered on these bills, whether at the General Assembly or on the sidelines. We are committed more than ever to ensuring that the promising future laid out in this legislation becomes a reality. Don’t miss our Spring 2020 Forum on May 14th. We’ll discuss the effects of the new legislation and how members can stay engaged on these issues in our opening plenary panel.
Happy Friday, members! As we turn the corner to the last week of Session, there’s still plenty of movement around energy efficiency to report.
The two conflicting versions of the VA Clean Economy Act – HB 1526 (Sullivan) and SB 851 (McClellan) – are going to a Committee of Conference to reach a compromise next week. A Committee of Conference is made up of three Delegates and three Senators. Two of the Delegates and two of the Senators will come from the majority party, and one will come from the minority party. We are keeping a close eye on this process to ensure that the energy efficiency piece of the bill remains strong.
HB 1450 (Sullivan), the stand-alone EERS bill, was passed through the Senate with a substitution that was ultimately rejected by the House. This bill will also go to a Committee of Conference, though it is currently unclear if it will be the same Conference as the VCEA.
On to the good news:
SB 754 (Marsden) unanimously passed both chambers and is ready to be signed into law! This bill provides a regulatory framework for electric cooperatives to seek approval from the State Corporation Commission to establish an On-Bill Tariff program for customers who want to perform energy efficiency upgrades to their residences.
HB 575 (Keam) passed the Senate with a substitution. This bill will expand the scope of the SCC energy efficiency stakeholder group. If the House accepts the substitution, this bill will also be ready to sign into law.
HB 1576 (Kilgore) unanimously reported out of the Senate Commerce and Labor committee. This bill raises the limit for industrial customers to opt-out of energy efficiency programs.
SB 963 (Surovell) has been referred to the House Appropriations committee. This bill establishes the Efficient and Resilient Buildings Board to advise the Governor on ways to accelerate improvements to state buildings in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
As we stated last week, HB 518 (Bulova) and SB 628 (Surovell) have passedthrough both chambers. Both bills ensure that energy audits will now be listed in the VA Residential Disclosure Act as an option for homebuyers during the homebuying process.
While they are not bills we formally endorse, we are happy to share the passage of HB 981 (Herring) and HB 654 (Guy). HB 981, the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act, commits Virginia to joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), while HB 654 establishes a state-wide administrator for C-PACE. These bills mark excellent progress towards a clean energy future.
Happy Friday, members! It’s been another busy, whirlwind week in the General Assembly, though not quite as momentous as the past two. Before we launch into this week’s recap, we have an urgent action item: HB 1450 (Sullivan), the stand-alone EERS bill, is being heard in the Senate TODAY. We need all of you to call or email your Senators and voice your support for this legislation. HB 1450 establishes mandatory savings targets for Virginia’s investor-owned utilities based on 2019 retail sales to help Virginia families save money on their electricity bills. If you’re not sure who your legislator is, or how to contact them, use this handy tool from the GA website.
Moving onto this week’s updates. We’re excited to announce that HB 518 (Bulova) and SB 628 (Surovell) have passedthrough both chambers and are headed to the Governor’s desk! Both bills ensure that energy audits will now be listed in the VA Residential Disclosure Act as an option for homebuyers during the homebuying process.
SB 754 (Marsden) unanimously reported out of the House Labor and Commerce committee. This bill provides a regulatory framework for electric cooperatives to seek approval from the State Corporation Commission to establish an On-Bill Tariff program for customers who want to perform energy efficiency upgrades to their residences.
SB 963 (Surovell) reported out of the House General Laws subcommittee on Professions/Occupations and Administrative Process, as well as the full General Laws committee. It has not been referred to the House Appropriations subcommittee on Compensation and General Government. This bill establishes the Efficient and Resilient Buildings Board to advise the Governor on ways to accelerate improvements to state buildings in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
As for the VA Clean Economy Act and its various components, we anticipate all of those bills being heard in the Senate Commerce and Labor committee on Monday- HB 1526 (Sullivan, House version of VCEA), HB 1576 (Kilgore, Industrial opt-out), or HB 575 (Keam, expanding EE stakeholder group)– and SB 851 (McClellan, Senate version of VCEA), in the House Labor and Commerce committee next week.
Happy Valentine’s Friday, members! If you’ve followed the news at all in the past week, you know there is really only one word to describe the past week: HUGE. The Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) passed both the House and the Senate on Tuesday, marking a monumental shift in energy policy. VAEEC’s Executive Director has spent literally hundreds of hours in negotiations alongside clean energy business organizations and environmental advocates to get the landmark legislation passed. Delegate Sullivan, the bill’s sponsor in the House, said the VCEA will propel Virginia “into the future and into the top tier of states in terms of climate and energy policy.”
The bill has garnered national attention as well, having been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Virginian-Pilot, and Utility Dive. In our 2020-2022 Strategic Plan, we say Virginia is poised for revolutionary change. This week shows how true that is, and how far we have come as both a state and an organization. There are still hurdles ahead, as differences in the House and Senate versions of the bill must be reconciled before it can go to Governor Northam, but we are absolutely overjoyed at this enormous step towards a clean energy future.
And like that wasn’t enough good news for one week, there’s loads more to share:
The stand-alone EERS bill, HB 1450 (Sullivan) also PASSED the House, 75 to 24, with strong bipartisan support. It has now been referred to the Senate committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources, which is unusual, so we will be watching this closely. Additionally, VAEEC drafted a substitute for the patron to clean up some drafting errors and provide technical amendments, which have been reviewed by the investor-owned utilities and the coalition working on the broader VCEA.
HB 1576 (Kilgore) PASSED the House and has been referred to the Senate Commerce and Labor committee. This bill removes the automatic opt-out for industrial customers from paying for energy efficiency programs. It instead requires large consumers to prove their own energy savings before opting out of utility programs.
SB 754 (Marsden) unanimously PASSED the Senate and has been referred to the House Labor and Commerce committee. This bill provides a regulatory framework for electric cooperatives to seek approval from the State Corporation Commission to establish an On-Bill Tariff program for customers who want to perform energy efficiency upgrades to their residences.
SB 963 (Surovell) unanimously PASSED the Senate. It has been referred to the House General Laws subcommittee on Professions/Occupations and Administrative Process. This bill establishes the Efficient and Resilient Buildings Board to advise the Governor on ways to accelerate improvements to state buildings in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
HB 575 (Keam) passed the House and has been referred to the Senate Commerce and Labor committee. VAEEC drafted a substitute for the patron to align with language in both the VCEA and the EERS bills.
HB 518 (Bulova) and SB 628 (Surovell) passed the House and Senate, respectively. Both bills have also already passed out of committees in the opposite chamber and are going to the opposite chamber floor for a vote ensuring that energy audits will now be listed in the VA Residential Disclosure Act as an option for homebuyers during the homebuying process
Also, while it is not a bill we formally endorse, we are happy to share that HB 654 (Guy) passed the House, putting Virginia one step closer to launching a statewide C-PACE administrator.
We hope you all have a wonderful weekend, celebrating that not only is love in the air, but progress is too.
Last night, for the first time ever, a mandatory Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) passed out of the House Labor and Commerce Committee with bipartisan support. The EERS mirrored the energy efficiency components of the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), which also passed out of that committee. “To say this is monumental is an understatement,” says our Executive Director, Chelsea Harnish, who was in attendance for this historic vote. “There are still hurdles ahead, but the passage of both HB 1450 and HB 1526 through the full committee is a massive and critical step for energy efficiency. We’re incredibly excited to be part of that success.”
The House Labor and Commerce committee’s final vote on HB 1526, the Virginia Clean Economy Act.
Chelsea has been working tirelessly, in hours of negotiations with a coalition of advocates from across the clean energy industry, to ensure that the EERS significantly raises the bar for energy savings. The EERS will require Dominion to hit a 2.5% energy savings target by 2025, which speeds up the spending timeline on the $870M commitment in the GTSA. The VCEA will put Virginia in the top 5 for climate change policy nationwide, and will make the state’s ACEEE energy efficiency score leap to at least the top 20 in their annual scorecard.
The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee will hold a special meeting this Sunday and will review all energy bills at that time. As we lead up to Crossover on Tuesday, we will keep you updated on the progress.
Other Good News:
HB 1576 (Kilgore) reported unanimously out of the House Commerce and Labor committee.
HB 518 (Bulova) and SB 628 (Surovell) passed the House and Senate, respectively.
SB 754 (Marsden) reported unanimously out of the Senate Commerce and Labor committee with substitutions.
SB 963 (Surovell) reported unanimously out of the Senate Finance and Appropriations committee.
Happy Friday, members! It was another very busy week in the General Assembly. Clean energy advocates have been negotiating with the utilities all week to reach a consensus on the Virginia Clean Economy Act (HB 1526/SB 851) and those negotiations continue today. As always, if you need a refresher on the bills we’re supporting, check out last week’s blog post.
Onto the good news! We are excited to announce that HB 518 (Bulova) passed the House on Tuesday with a vote of 86 to 13. SB 628 (Surovell) also passed the Senate last week.
HB 575 (Keam) was unanimously reported out of the House Labor and Commerce committee and is on the House floor for consideration.
SB 963 (Surovell) reported out of the Senate General Laws and Technology committee with amendments, and was referred to Finance and Appropriations.
Also, while this is not a bill the VAEEC formally supports, we are happy to state that HB 654 (Guy), which will authorize the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to establish a statewide C-PACE program, reported unanimously out of the Cities, Counties, and Towns Land Use subcommittee yesterday.
None of our other bills were heard in last night’s House subcommittee meeting. HB 1450 (Sullivan), HB 1526 (Sullivan), and HB 1576 (Kilgore) will all be heard on Tuesday in the final subcommittee meeting before Crossover.
SB 354 (Bell), SB 851 (McClellan), and SB 754 (Marsden) will be in the full Senate Commerce and Labor committee on Monday. We would love to see as many members as possible on Monday and Tuesday come out to show their support for these bills.
VAEEC continues to oppose SB 613 (Suetterlein). The bill was passed by indefinitely by the Senate Commerce and Labor committee this week.
Happy Friday! This week was incredibly busy and we saw a lot of action around many EE bills. Before we get to business, there are several important dates coming up:
The Senate Commerce and Labor Energy subcommittee will hear their bills next Monday, and the House Labor & Commerce subcommittee #3 will hear theirs next Thursday. Wednesday is also the AEE Lobby Day in support of the Virginia Clean Economy Act. These are all great opportunities to make sure your voice is heard, so we hope to see lots of members at the General Assembly. For a review of the bills we’re following, check out last week’s blog post.
We are happy to announce that the VAEEC Board has voted to formally support the following bills:
New HB 1526 (Sullivan) and SB 851 (McClellan) – The Virginia Clean Economy Act. The Senate version will be heard next Monday in the energy subcommittee of Commerce and Labor. The House version will be heard next Thursday in the energy subcommittee of Labor and Commerce.
New SB 754 (Marsden) – Provides a regulatory framework for electric cooperatives to seek approval from the State Corporation Commission to establish an On-Bill Tariff program for customers who want to perform energy efficiency upgrades to their residences. This bill has been assigned to the energy subcommittee of Commerce and Labor.
New HB 1576 (Kilgore) – Increases the threshold for industrial consumers to opt-out of energy efficiency programs from 500 kW to 1 mW. This bill has been assigned to the energy subcommittee of Labor and Commerce.
HB 518 (Bulova) and SB 628 (Surovell) – We are excited to report that SB 628 passed the Senate on Tuesday 28 to 14. The House version reported out of the General Laws and Technology committee and is on the House floor for consideration.
HB 575 (Keam) – Was unanimously reported out of the energy subcommittee last night.
HB 1450 (Sullivan) and SB 354 (Bell)- The Senate version will be heard next Monday in the energy subcommittee of Commerce and Labor. The House version will be heard next Thursday in the energy subcommittee of Commerce and Labor.
SB 963 (Surovell)- This bill should be heard in General Laws and Technology next week and will be referred to the Finance Committee by request.
HB 413 (Delaney) – The House Committee on Cities, Counties and Towns – Land Use subcommittee voted to kill the bill.
VAEEC continues to oppose SB 613 (Suetterlein). Various amendments have been provided to the patron by various entities, some of which would resolve our concerns with this bill. However, the docket for Monday’s Senate Commerce & Labor committee meeting has not been published, so we will continue to follow this for future updates.
UPDATE 1/17/2020 2:23 PM: The VAEEC Board has voted to officially support HB 1450 (Sullivan)/SB 354 (Bell), HB 413 (Delaney), and HB 575 (Keam).
Happy Friday! The second week of the General Assembly session saw a lot of activity, including a few new bills and plenty of information for our members. If you need a refresher on all the different bills that have been proposed, check out last week’s blog post and Wednesday’s legislative preview webinar.
At this time, the VAEEC Board and Policy Committee have voted to formally support HB 518 (Bulova), HB 574 (Keam), and SB 628 (Surovell). These bills add an energy audit analysis to the Residential Disclosure Act as an option for homebuyers to request during the home-buying process. HB 574 was rolled into HB 518, which unanimously passed out of subcommittee yesterday. SB 628 passed out of the full Senate committee on Wednesday and is now on the Senate floor for consideration.
The Board also voted to oppose SB 613 (Suetterlein). The bill prohibits all utilities and their affiliates from distributing “promotional” mail- both physical and electronic – to customers, including bill inserts, circulars, newsletters, and more. While the limitations of this bill may not have been intended by the patron, we feel it would curtail the ability to advertise and market utility energy efficiency programs.
The Policy Committee voted to recommend the following bills to the VAEEC Board for support. We are still pending Board approval at this time but will keep you apprised of future developments.
New SB 963 (Surovell)- Establishes the Efficient and Resilient Buildings Board to advise the Governor on ways to accelerate improvements to state buildings in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bill has been referred to the General Laws and Technology committee.
HB 1526 (Sullivan) and SB 851 (McClellan)- The Virginia Clean Economy Act. SB 851 has been referred to the Senate Commerce and Labor (C&L) committee. HB 1526 is pending referral to the House Labor and Commerce (L&C) committee.
HB 1450 (Sullivan) and SB 354 (Bell)- Establish a mandatory statewide Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS). HB 1450 has been referred to L&C subcommittee #3, and there is no update on SB 354.
HB 461 (Sullivan) – Extends the property tax credit for renewable energy upgrades, which includes energy-efficient geothermal heat pumps. The bill has been referred to the House Finance Committee.
HB 413 (Delaney) – Includes provisions to establish minimum standards for energy efficiency, as well as maintaining access to renewables in subdivision ordinances. The bill has been assigned to the House Committee on Counties, Cities, and Towns (CC&T), Land Use subcommittee.
HB 575 (Keam) – Expands the scope of the SCC-mandated energy efficiency stakeholder process. The bill has been assigned to L&C subcommittee #3.
Wednesday was the first day of the 2020 General Assembly session and it is shaping up to be a very busy one! The following energy efficiency bills have been introduced, but as of yet, VAEEC has not taken any official positions. The VAEEC Policy committee will meet next week to review bills and make recommendations to the VAEEC Board. We hope to announce official positions on some bills in next week’s update.
With the change in leadership at the General Assembly, we are seeing a great deal of interest in legislation that advance both energy efficiency and clean energy more broadly. To make it easier to find bills that you may find relevant, we are grouping legislation into themes below.
The Virginia Clean Economy Act/ Clean Energy Standards
HB 1526 (Sullivan) and SB 851 (McClellan)- The Virginia Clean Economy Act. If you have heard any news about clean energy legislation in the past few weeks, it’s most likely been about this massive, sweeping legislation. These bills establish a carbon-free by 2050 plan that aligns with Governor Northam’s EO 43, which includes a mandatory Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS). Additionally, it establishes a mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard, codifies the Governor’s carbon rule, and includes provisions for coastal resiliency, battery storage, and offshore wind.
HB 1450 (Sullivan) and SB 354 (Bell)- Establish a mandatory statewide Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) that would require annual incremental energy savings from investor-owned utilities based on the annual average retail sales of the previous three years. The language in this bill is identical to the EERS portion of the Virginia Clean Economy Act.
SB 876 (Marsden) – Establishes a mandatory Clean Energy Standard to meet the 2030 and 2050 goals laid out in Governor Northam’s EO43. However, this bill solely relies on renewables to reach those goals. It does not mandate energy savings targets or mention energy efficiency at all.
Carbon Rule Codification/ Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)
While VAEEC has not taken a position on these types of legislation in the past, we have been more actively engaged this year in providing advice to bill patrons and the Governor’s office about the best ways to allocate funding for energy efficiency programs with the greater chance of passage this year.
HB 20 (Lindsey) – Codifies carbon rule, would use carbon cap and trade revenues to assist in resiliency, energy efficiency and renewable investments, as well as Southwest VA workforce training programs. This bill does not include a provision to join RGGI.
HB 981 (Herring) – Establishes a carbon cap and trade program with measures that are consistent with RGGI. The bill does not specify whether Virginia would join RGGI, however. The funds from this program would support coastal resiliency and floodwater management. This legislation is supported by Governor Northam.
HB 1152 (Lopez) – Establishes a carbon cap and trade program with the specific mandate that Virginia joins RGGI. The funds from this bill would establish an Energy Efficiency Fund, with 50% of the allowances going to general energy efficiency programs and 20% going toward low-income EE programs.
Tax Credits, Rebate Programs and Financing
HB 461 (Sullivan) – Extends the property tax credit for renewable energy upgrades, which includes energy-efficient geothermal heat pumps.
HB 633 (Willett) – Establishes a tax credit for energy-saving products.
HB 654 (Guy) – Establishes a clean-energy financing program to be administered by the VA Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.
SB 634 (Surovell) – Creates the Energy Efficiency Subsidy Program, which provides subsidies for residential energy efficiency measures and establishes a rebate program for the lease or purchase of zero-emission vehicles.
SB 754 (Marsden) – Provides a regulatory framework for both investor-owned electric utilities and electric cooperatives to seek approval from the State Corporation Commission to establish an On-Bill Tariff program for customers who want to perform energy efficiency upgrades to their residences. The IOU programs would be limited to households who make less than $100,000 annually.
Other EE Bills
HB 413 (Delaney) – Includes provisions to establish minimum standards for energy efficiency, as well as maintaining access to renewables in subdivision ordinances. This bill could pave the way for newly-built smart communities.
HB 518 (Bulova), HB 574 (Keam), and SB 628 (Surovell) – Adds an energy audit as an option for homebuyers to consider as part of the homebuying process in the Virginia Residential Disclosure Act.
HB 547 (Delaney) – Establishes an Energy and Economy Transition Council to identify new economic development and job opportunities in areas that rely heavily on a fossil-fuel economy. After meeting with VAEEC members and staff, the patron has agreed to include clean energy representatives as members to the council.
HB 575 (Keam) – Expands the scope of the SCC-mandated energy efficiency stakeholder process. The language in this bill is identical to language in the Virginia Clean Economy Act.
HB 714 (Reid) – Updates language in the Virginia Energy Plan to align with Executive Order 43. While this bill does not currently conform to Senator Favola’s SB 94 (below), the intent is for the language in these two bills to be identical.
SB 94 (Favola) – Expands the scope of the Virginia Energy Plan to align with the Governor’s carbon-free by 2050 goals in EO43 and creates a stakeholder group to review these goals. After meeting with VAEEC members and staff, the patron has agreed to include clean energy representatives in the list of pre-approved stakeholders.
Don’t forget to register today for our legislative webinar next Wednesday, January 15th at Noon. There are also several upcoming lobby days, so mark your calendars. They will be held on January 14th, January 29th, and February 6th. We will share more information about these dates as it becomes available.
Passage of the Grid Transformation and Security Act of 2018 underscores the widespread, bipartisan agreement that energy efficiency is a smart investment for the Commonwealth. The VAEEC endorsed this legislation because of the tremendous potential opportunities for energy-saving programs that will be provided to Virginians over the next decade, including a combined commitment by the electric utilities to spend over $1.3 billion on energy efficiency programs. Unfortunately, all of that potential could easily evaporate away.
Last month, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) held proceedings to review proposed energy efficiency programs for both Appalachian Power Company (APCO) and Dominion Energy. Dominion Energy filed for approval to extend their low-income program for another five years. As defined by Virginia law, low-income programs are already determined to be in the public interest so these types of programs do not face as much scrutiny by the SCC.
During the APCO proceeding however, the SCC staff recommended rejecting all five of the utility’s proposed residential programs. For three of these programs, the SCC staff stated that the utility had not taken into account new federal lighting standards taking effect in 2020. APCO decided to withdraw one of the programs for consideration due to this change but argued in their rebuttal testimony that the SCC staff’s interpretation of the new standard was incorrect for the other two programs since they would be direct install measures. Meaning, the program contractors would directly install the new LED light bulbs into sockets where incandescent light bulbs currently exist and would not be replacing CFL light bulbs with LEDs, as stated in the SCC staff response.
Similarly concerning was the SCC staff’s re-calculation of the cost-benefit tests for APCO’s appliance recycling program renewal, which incentivizes customers in their territory to recycle secondary appliances such as refrigerators. The SCC staff stated that the company miscalculated the cost-benefit tests of this program and performed new calculations, causing the program to fail two of the four cost-benefit tests.
According to experts I’ve spoken with, these new test results calculated by the SCC staff for the appliance recycling program are questionable since there is no customer cost for this particular program, therefore, it is unclear how this program could fail the Total Resource Cost Test but not the Utility Cost Test. Below is a table that was produced in a 2014 VAEEC report explaining the purpose of all four tests.
You may be wondering what this means, especially since this is all pretty technical, but what it boils down to is this: the substantial commitments to energy efficiency by both Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power Company in the omnibus utility bill will not come to fruition if energy efficiency programs continue to be scrutinized in this manner.
To be clear, the VAEEC supports the role that the SCC plays in scrutinizing proposals put forth by the utilities. That is their job and it is an important one. However, they tend to scrutinize energy efficiency programs more so than other proposals- including new power generating facilities. They do not view energy efficiency as a true resource when it comes to planning for future energy needs, when, in fact, it should be viewed as the critical first step. The kilowatt that goes unused is the cheapest form of energy. Allowing utilities to develop robust programs that help all customers make smart energy choices helps reduce the need for new, larger power generation facilities in the future. Energy efficiency isn’t a silver bullet by any means, but it is a valuable tool in the toolbox that should be utilized much more often than it is now.
Investments in energy efficiency also mean new jobs in every corner of Virginia. In our report “Why Energy Efficiency is a Smart investment for Virginia,” we found that energy efficiency is a $1.5 billion industry in Virginia that supports approximately 75,000 jobs. Greater investments and growth in energy efficiency means more jobs in the local communities being served- jobs that cannot be outsourced out-of-state or overseas. This is the argument that we have made before the SCC over the last two years.
The SCC should evaluate the economic development and job creating benefits that these programs create in the local communities they serve. These same benefits are included in the analysis to build new fossil-fueled facilities, so why wouldn’t the same economic benefits for energy efficiency be factored in as well? Especially given that most of the jobs created by building new power plants are temporary construction jobs whereas the jobs provided by energy efficiency programs are year-round and last for the life cycle of program.
The vacant seat on the SCC provides a unique opportunity to unleash the economic potential of energy efficiency for the citizens of the Commonwealth. It is our hope that a new Commissioner is appointed soon and that he or she sees the value and tremendous opportunity that energy efficiency provides. Otherwise, we will be leaving over a billion dollars on the table.
Last week (Oct. 6, 2016), the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council held a successful workshop for utility staff, evaluators, regulators, implementers and other stakeholders on EM+V 2.0 (Evaluation, Measurement + Verification).
This past spring, while we at the VAEEC were drafting our comments and collecting those from member organizations to the State Corporation Commission on the establishment of EM+V protocols, we took the opportunity to discuss this concept of “Enhanced EM+V”, “EM+V 2.0” or “Automated EM+V”. For the purposes of this post, we will use the term “EM+V 2.0” moving forward. As we stated in our comments, “these methods can provide opportunities for utilities and regulators to gain program insights in near real-time, speed up the evaluation process and potentially reduce the associated costs.”
During a conference call with our utility members to review and provide feedback on our comments, there was general agreement that a workshop to delve deeper into this complex topic would be useful. In the VAEEC’s role as a resource provider to our members and stakeholders, it made sense for us to take this on.
Our expert presenters came from diverse backgrounds, which allowed our participants to learn about EM+V 2.0 from a variety of different perspectives. Our presenters included:
Katherine began the workshop with a quick primer on EM+V in general, including why evaluation is necessary for utility programs and the advantages and challenges of EM+V 2.0. She also discussed how EM+V 2.0 fit into the bigger picture and provided some examples of which programs it is useful to evaluate and which ones it may not be useful for. She also briefly mentioned her work as the independent evaluator in Arkansas and how that evaluation model works.
All of their presentations can be accessed via links above and found on our resources page.
Following all of the presentations, we welcomed all of the presenters back to the front of the room for a panel discussion on what had been previously discussed, to answer questions and to start the dialogue on next steps.
We plan to follow up with participants with a survey to get feedback on how to continue the conversation.
From my perspective, simply having the number of participants we had and knowing they were engaged on the issue made this workshop a success. We appreciated the thoughtful questions and the discussion that ensued.
(June 28, 2016) Governor McAuliffe today issued Executive Order 57 directing Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward to convene a workgroup and recommend concrete steps to reduce carbon pollution from Virginia’s power plants. The group will evaluate options under Virginia’s existing authority to address carbon pollution. You can read the Governor’s press release here.
The following is the statement of Chelsea Harnish, VAEEC Executive Director:
“The Virginia Energy Efficiency Council applauds Governor McAuliffe’s announcement today on issuing Executive Order 57. Any plan to reduce carbon emissions should include strong energy efficiency policies. The Governor has been a champion of energy efficiency since taking office, which has been exemplified by his action to initiate the first-ever Governor’s Executive Committee on Energy Efficiency. Energy efficiency creates jobs, saves families and businesses money, and helps reduce pollution and carbon emissions — all benefits that the Commonwealth deserves from economic, energy and environmental initiatives like Executive Order 57.”
About the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council
The Virginia Energy Efficiency Council is a 501(c)3 organization seeking to provide a forum for stakeholder interaction and to assess and support programs, innovation, best practices, and policies that advance energy efficiency in Virginia.
Although we concluded that a statewide program administrator would be the ideal solution to ensure rapid advancement of PACE in Virginia, we also concluded that there is no known existing funding to support the creation of statewide program administrator. However, Abacus Property Solutions assisted the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) in responding to a Department of Energy State Energy Program (SEP) grant that, if awarded, would provide Virginia and partner states, Maryland and District of Columbia, with $500,000 in PACE funding across our region. This three-year grant would help seed and develop statewide PACE efforts including:
Develop standardized, and low-cost program design and administrative structures throughout the region;
Increase market awareness of PACE through coordinated outreach to and education of key stakeholder groups whose participation in PACE will accelerate its adoption and growth in the region.
If awarded, the DOE grant would address specifically administrative structure, owner eligibility, financial underwriting guidelines, energy audit and measurement & verification requirements, contractor training and support, capital provider support, and marketing messages and strategy. The VAEEC would receive a portion of this funding from this DOE/DMME grant to implement some of the work in the grant.
We feel that our response was strong due to our regional approach across three states and the problem that we are solving with a standardized model. DMME should know by late August or early September 2016 if we were awarded the grant, with funding provided by mid fall.
In the interim, the grant recommendations included the notion that VAEEC develop a comprehensive local government and energy contractor PACE education and outreach effort and offer technical assistance to local governments interested in PACE. An additional recommended task is to build grassroots efforts to compel localities to create PACE programs. The VAEEC is well positioned to build a grassroots campaign of energy service companies, clean energy advocates and property owners in local jurisdictions.
In late February, Arlington County issued a RFP to select a third party PACE program administrator. The creation of a PACE program in Arlington with a third party administrator creates another path forward to advance PACE in Virginia. Other localities can replicate the Arlington model, which calls for a third party to run their program and be paid from origination fees.
Finally, in late March 2016, the Richmond City Council passed a resolution calling for the Chief Administrative Officer to submit a proposal to City Council by January 31, 2017, with recommendations for creating a PACE program. The city is now forming a PACE stakeholder group and will study the Arlington model as part of its work plan to develop recommendations for implementing a PACE program.
VAEEC Members Encouraged to Apply, Suggest Nominees, and Offer Support
March 2016: Virginia’s Board of Housing and Community Development will be filling five seats this spring and summer. VAEEC would like to see a strong number of diverse nominations representing the energy efficiency industry.
Why is this important to VAEEC?
Members of the governor-appointed Housing and Community Development Board guide and vote upon the content of Virginia’s triennial update of building codes – including the energy efficiency code. Currently Virginia lags behind our neighbors to the north and south for requiring some of the advancements in efficiency standards and testing. Advanced energy codes are among the most cost-effective methods of saving energy, lowering the total cost of housing, improving health and comfort in homes, and improving quality throughout the homebuilding industry. Learn more about the importance of strong energy codes from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Responsible Energy Codes Alliance.
What can you do?
Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be nominated or can suggest a candidate worthy of support.
The seats will be filled by July 1, but the administration is expected to identify candidates soon.
The open seats are in Virginia’s 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, and 9th congressional districts, and nominees have to reside in the district to be eligible:
3rd (Bobby Scott’s district- parts of Richmond, Henrico, parts of Tidewater)
4th (Randy Forbes’s district- being redrawn) South-central to South eastern part of VA (Chesterfield, Amelia, Hopewell, Southampton, etc.)
VAEEC is official supporting the following candidates. To show your support for these or other nominees, simply fill out a nomination form online. It is listed as “Housing and Community Development, Board of” under “Commerce and Trade.”
3rd District: Andrew Grigsby, Executive Director of the Local Energy Alliance Program and Secretary of the VAEEC Governance Board
7th District: Bob Newman, President & CEO of the Virginia Community Development Corporation
7th District: Tim Bernadowski, Senior Energy Engineer, Siemens Building Technologies