Energy Efficiency: The Word from Washington

Are you trying to keep up with the latest on energy policy at the federal level? Thinking through the implications these policies will have for Virginia, your company or organization? So are we.

Here are a couple of updates and ways to stay engaged.

  1. Join us May 19 at our Spring Meeting. The theme is “Opportunities in the Midst of Change” with a panel on the implications of federal policy here in the Commonwealth.
  2. There is still time to sign on to a letter led by VAEEC member E4TheFuture urging Congress to continue support for residential energy efficiency. The deadline to sign was extended to April 21.
  3. The Alliance to Save Energy has an active online petition where you (and your members/customers) can voice support for the ENERGY STAR program.
  4. Get an update on energy efficiency legislation winding its way through the House and Senate.
  5. Keep sharing the good news. Preliminary results from the 2016 Virginia Clean Energy Census indicate that building energy efficiency alone accounts for $1.1B in annual revenue. We recently found this great infographic from the International Energy Agency showing the multiple benefits of energy efficiency improvements. 
    If your company or organization has a story to tell that — anecdotally or via data and research — underscores the importance and effectiveness of energy efficiency, please share it with us!
  6. Grab your coffee and skim through the recent news coverage and analysis. We’ve pulled some of the highlights here:

“In Virginia, the Trump effect on environment is beginning to come into focus.” (Virginian-Pilot, April 3): “The new president already had signaled in his budget blueprint delivered to Congress two weeks before that he will try to back up his campaign promises to roll back environmental regulations, which he has described as job-killing and onerous. The Environmental Protection Agency’s budget would be slashed by 31 percent next fiscal year. Environmental programs in numerous other agencies – from the Agriculture Department to NASA – would be chopped as well.”

“ENERGY STAR labels are seen as a cheap way to improve efficiency. Why does Trump want to kill them?” (Los Angeles Times, April 12) “Commercial real estate giant CBRE is always on alert for shifts in federal government policy that might impact its vast property management and investment business. But the Los Angeles-based Fortune 500 company never anticipated an effort to eliminate a voluntary, cost-effective initiative that has saved its customers millions of dollars and had almost no critics…’Never in my wildest thoughts have I considered something like this,’ said Dave Pogue, who leads the sustainability efforts at CBRE. He said the program helped the firm cut energy use at its properties by 16% over the last decade.

“Your fridge may be Washington’s next regulatory-rollback target” (Bloomberg News, April 12): “Appliance makers want Congress to ease energy efficiency standards that they say are unrealistic and costly for air conditioners, refrigerators and other equipment — even allowing for future rollbacks. The industry is lobbying to amend a decades old conservation law that sets minimum efficiency standards for many household and commercial appliances and bars them from being weakened. Manufacturers say regulators should be required to negotiate requirements with them and that some set by the Obama administration are too costly and will drive up prices.”

“States take on Trump over energy efficiency.” (Reuters, April 3): “A coalition of U.S. states has mounted a broad legal challenge against what it called the Trump administration’s illegal suspension of rules to improve the energy efficiency of ceiling fans, portable air conditioners and other products.”

“As Trump bows out, states seek to fill void on climate change” (Bloomberg News, March 28): “In statehouses across the country, both Republican and Democratic leaders are using their own regulatory powers and budgets to fill a void being left by Trump, whose order Tuesday rolled back many of President Barack Obama’s expansive initiatives to combat global warming.”

“Trump wants to cut programs that help buildings save energy. This new study says they work.” (Washington Post, March 27): “A new study, out Monday in the journal Nature Energy, finds that “green” buildings in Los Angeles alone are avoiding about 145,000 metric tons in carbon dioxide equivalents each year. And there’s hope that efficiency programs in other cities may performing similarly well.”

Trump aims deep cuts at energy agency that helped make solar power affordable” (Washington Post, March 31): “The Trump administration is aiming a half-billion-dollar cut at the main U.S. hub for renewable energy research — 25 percent of the agency’s budget, and that’s just for the final five months of this federal fiscal year. Even deeper cuts are expected to be sought for 2018 — a possibility that has alarmed researchers in clean energy and even some Republicans in Congress. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, or EERE, is a $2 billion branch of the Department of Energy. It is credited with helping to drive the rapid expansion of rooftop solar panels, electric vehicle batteries, LED lighting and more…His proposed budget would cut previously uncontroversial energy efficiency programs, like the EPA’s Energy Star and the Weatherization Assistance Program (which EERE operates), and discard entirely innovative clean energy research programs like the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, also part of the Energy Department.”

“New EPA documents reveal even deeper proposed cuts to staff and programs” (Washington Post, March 31): “The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a new, more detailed plan for laying off 25 percent of its employees and scrapping 56 programs ”

EPA energy efficiency