Our November 12th member meeting was the most well attended meeting for the VAEEC to date, and those 110+ attendees were treated to a packed room and packed agenda. It was a great starting point for me as the new Executive Director of the VAEEC, and I hope that those in attendance enjoyed the diverse speaking topics as much as I did. (If you attended the meeting and would like to share your feedback, we’ve got a brief survey up online.)
Here’s my synopsis of the meeting, and you can download all of the presentations on the Resources page):
After our board chair, Cynthia Adams with Pearl Certification, did the welcome and introduced me, I laid out my vision for the next 12+ months for the VAEEC. In preparation for the meeting, I had spoken with all of my board members and during those conversations three common ideas emerged as top priorities for us:
- The Council should be a trusted source of information for decision makers, businesses or anyone interested in energy efficiency policy and innovation. We’re already well on its way with this objective through our work with the Governor’s Executive Committee on energy efficiency.
- More networking. To that end, we will be announcing some exciting new opportunities in the future so stay tuned.
- More member resources. Building off our monthly e-newsletter, we will be providing more original content as well as other resources for our members in the coming months.
This is just the beginning. I also want to hear from you, our members, on ways we can help you be successful in the energy efficiency space. To that end, we will be sending out a member survey at the beginning of the new year so be on the lookout for it.
Our first speaker was Dr. Bob Holsworth with DecideSmart, who discussed the impacts of recent election results on Virginia’s energy efficient future, which, according to Dr. Holsworth, will have zero impact since the elections kept the House and Senate divided in the same ratio as before.
Next was Mike Dowd with the Department of Environmental Quality who gave an update on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Mike’s presentation was full of details such as how the draft and final rule differed; how Virginia’s comments to the EPA were addressed; various pathways to compliance, and the timeline moving forward. This is definitely worth checking out and is available on our Resources page.
Hayes Framme with the Office of Governor McAuliffe was our next presenter who gave a brief update on the Governor’s Executive Committee on Energy Efficiency (GEC). Four of the VAEEC’s board members sit on the GEC and the Council is a partner of the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, the state agency who provides staffing to the GEC, to work on some of the key components of the GEC work plan. Our work with the GEC is just getting started so expect to see more updates about the GEC at our spring meeting as well.
After the GEC update, we held our member spotlight presentation on Arlington County. John Morrill, a VAEEC board member representing Arlington County, gave a brief update on their program with a few highlights, including their highly successful LED program.
After lunch, VAEEC board member Marisa Uchin with Opower presented on energy efficiency policies and programs taking place in New York and California. Hurricane Sandy was a wake up call to decision-makers in NY on just how vulnerable their energy system is to natural disasters. As stated in Marisa’s presentation, Reforming the Energy Vision is a “comprehensive reform aimed at reorienting the electric industry and ratemaking paradigm toward a customer-centric approach, and one that uses distributed energy resources (DER) as a primary tool in the planning and operation of efficient and resilient electric distribution systems.”
Next up Mary Shoemaker with American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy presented ACEEE’s new scorecard and highlighted how Virginia compares to its neighbors, which unfortunately, isn’t favorable.
After the ACEEE presentation, we held a “lightning round” for utility updates. Dominion and Appalachian Power both gave brief updates on their low-income energy efficiency programs. In the future, we would like to extend an invitation for all of our members to briefly highlight their work in this format so please come prepared to brag at the spring meeting!
Our final speaker of the day was VAEEC board member Bill Greenleaf with Virginia Community Capital who walked us through the new Virginia SAVES program and the new PACE loan program for commercial customers, thanks to recent legislation passed in the 2015 General Assembly session. The VA SAVES program is an interest rate subsidy program that utilizes Virginia’s allocation of federal qualified energy conservation bonds. This program is open to local governments and the private sector and is capped at $20 million. PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) is a loan program for energy efficiency, renewable energy and water efficiency projects. The loans, provided by private lenders, are repaid on the commercial real estate tax bill and stay with property upon resale.
As you can tell, we had a very productive and informative meeting. We’re already underway planning for the spring meeting and we hope you can join us then.