Contact: Chelsea Harnish
Richmond, Virginia – Today the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee reported SB 966, sponsored by Senators Frank Wagner and Richard Saslaw, by a vote of 10:4 to the full Senate Chamber.
The bill often referred to as the Dominion Rate Freeze Repeal bill, includes important funding and programmatic provisions that favor energy efficiency.
The following is a statement by Chelsea Harnish, Executive Director of the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council (VAEEC):
“Throughout the process, VAEEC has advocated that any portion of over-earnings that the utilities are allowed to keep should be used to fund energy efficiency programs. We applaud the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee for passing legislation that provides significant energy efficiency gains for Virginia consumers.
“Energy efficiency is one of the easiest, most direct ways to help a vast number of customers lower their electricity bills this year and for years to come.
“Whenever Virginia takes a step to advance energy efficiency, ratepayers win with lower monthly energy costs. Businesses win with lower operating costs. Companies and the economy win with more jobs and economic activity. And we all win with cleaner air and protecting natural resources.
“While other aspects of this legislation have stirred controversy, support for Virginia to do more on the energy efficiency front has been strong and unwavering. Passage of this legislation underscores the widespread, bipartisan agreement that energy efficiency is a smart investment for the Commonwealth and for consumers.
VAEEC specifically applauds the following components of the bill:
- States that a utility energy efficiency program is in the public interest if it passes three of four cost-benefit tests, effectively removing the burdensome hurdle of the “RIM Test”
- Provides for the development of an independent stakeholder process to receive input on energy efficiency program design and implementation
- Commits Dominion Energy to spending $1B in energy efficiency spending over 10 years. This includes $870M in regulated programs (at least 5% of which will be for low-income households) and $6M/year for Energy Share Weatherization, doubling the current level, which will be funded entirely by shareholders.
- Commits Appalachian Power Company to spending $140 million over 10 years for energy efficiency programs for their customers
Just last fall the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranked Virginia 29th on the State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, but named us one of a handful of ‘Most Improved States.’ In doing so, it said the following: ‘However the state has significant room to strengthen efficiency programs and policies in the utility sector…. Virginia could also work to streamline the process by which utilities evaluate, measure, and verify energy savings which may help utilities to develop efficiency programs with more comprehensive measures. To keep costs low for all Virginia consumers, utilities could design programs that better meet the needs of large customers.’”
The Virginia Energy Efficiency Council is the voice for the energy efficiency industry in the Commonwealth. Our members include Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, universities, nonprofits, local governments, state agencies, utilities, and individuals. The Council’s goal is to ensure energy efficiency is recognized as an integral part of Virginia’s economy and clean energy future. As a 501c3 organization based in Richmond, the VAEEC provides a platform for stakeholder engagement while assessing and supporting programs, innovation, best practices, and policies that advance energy efficiency in Virginia. Together we are creating, implementing, and sharing energy efficiency solutions that keep costs down for residents and businesses, while improving the quality of life in our work and home environments. Our May 2017 report, “Why Energy Efficiency is a Smart Investment for Virginia”, found that energy efficiency is a $1.5B industry in Virginia that supports 75,000 jobs. www.vaeec.org @SmartEnergyVA