Executive Order 57: Reducing the Commonwealth’s Carbon Emissions

Back in the summer of 2016, Governor McAuliffe signed Executive Order 57 (EO57), an initiative to reduce the Commonwealth’s carbon emissions. This Order established a workgroup to recommend concrete steps to reduce carbon emissions from Virginia’s electric power generation facilities, which account for roughly 30% of our total carbon emissions. Earlier this year, the workgroup was soliciting comments from the public on ways to cut Virginia’s carbon emissions from this sector.

The VAEEC supports EO57’s attempt to reduce the Commonwealth’s carbon emissions and has been actively engaged throughout this process. For example, Chelsea Harnish and Board member Andrew Grigsby gave a presentation to the workgroup at a meeting on building codes in January of this year. Currently, the VAEEC is focused on several program areas which reflect our role in advancing innovative and effective strategies in the energy efficiency field: supporting smart energy efficiency policies and programs through the Governor’s Executive Committee on Energy Efficiency, or GEC; Property Assessed Clean Energy financing, or PACE; and pushing for more rigorous energy codes in the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code, or USBC.

Thus, it made total sense for us to seize the opportunity to publicly comment on the importance of energy efficiency.

The VAEEC’s comments were carefully crafted to encourage the EO57 workgroup to include energy efficiency as part of the Commonwealth’s compliance plan to reduce carbon pollutions from the electric sector. After all, energy efficiency is one of the most practical, cost-effective tools to reduce our energy consumption and dependency on fossil fuels, which in turn, helps mitigate climate change. Furthermore, energy efficiency is a $1.5B industry in Virginia that supports more than 75,000 jobs. Therefore, we recommended that the EO57 workgroup include energy efficiency as a viable option for reducing carbon pollution from power plants.

Additionally, our comments encouraged the EO57 workgroup, and all Secretariats and state agencies represented by members of the workgroup, to become more actively engaged in the utility proceedings before the State Corporation Commission. These proceedings provide an opportunity to interject different perspectives into these conversations including from those who are charged with protecting consumers from paying higher-than necessary energy bills and agencies tracking our air quality and/or progress toward meeting Virginia’s voluntary energy reduction goal.

Energy efficiency is a practical, cost-effective tool that reduces energy consumption and carbon pollution, saves money on utility bills, creates jobs, and positively contributes to Virginia’s economy. The VAEEC will continue to work hard to advance energy efficiency across the Commonwealth, and we hope that the EO57 workgroup will recognize the value and opportunities energy efficiency offers.

VAEEC’s full comments submitted to the Executive Order 57 workgroup can be found here.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch just ran a story, “Will Virginia forge its own path on carbon regulation,” about the EO57 process which you can read here.