Spring 2024 Forum Recap

Virginia’s energy efficiency industry gathered together on May 5th to learn and connect at the VAEEC’s annual Spring Forum. With over 100 energy efficiency professionals in attendance, this was our largest Spring Forum since the pandemic. Thanks to our sponsors, speakers, and attendees for making the event a great success! A special thank you to Henrico County for providing the venue.

The Spring Forum kicked off with an opening presentation from Executive Director, Chelsea Harnish, who provided an update about Virginia’s energy efficiency industry and the organization’s accomplishments throughout the past year. We also conducted a live audience poll to get real-time feedback from attendees about what benefits and topics they’d like to see more of.

    • In light of recent federal and state funds and legislation, what are the top three technologies you feel the VAEEC should focus on?
      • #1 Heat pumps 
      • #2 Data center efficiency technologies 
      • #3 (tie) Heat pump hot water heaters 
      • #3 (tie) Solar-ready/EV-ready construction 
      • #3 (tie) Commercial/Industrial decarbonization strategies 
    • The VAEEC has a strategic goal to diversify membership to better reflect the racial and geographic diversity of the state. What are the top three outreach strategies you feel the membership committee should focus on? 
      • #1 Community events 
      • #2 Workforce development outreach 
      • #3 Locality engagement 
    • The VAEEC hosts two biannual forums per year, in addition to webinars, round tables, and workshops. What are the top benefits you’re like to see more of? 
      • #1 Networking 
      • #2 Icebreakers and/or opportunities to get to know other members
      • #3 More interactivity

Next was a keynote address from Paula Glover, President of the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE). With ASE’s focus on advancing federal energy efficiency policy, Paula provided an inspirational message about the importance of working as a team. She used the metaphor of running as a team and creating winning strategies for this long and complex race we are all running to advance energy efficiency forward. Paula encouraged us to team up and use our strengths towards a greater goal. 

Next, VAEEC Board Chair Leigh Anne Ratliff led the business meeting, which started off with our 2024 Board of Directors election.

VAEEC members re-elected one board member:

    • Michael Hubbard, Dominion Energy (3rd full term)

Members then voted to elect three new directors to the Board:

    • Raye Elliott, FLIPP Inc.
    • Megan McMillen, Community Housing Partners
    • Nam Nguyen, Virginia Tech

We are thrilled to add new voices to our leadership and to continue working with our current Board members. 

Attendees were next treated to a round-robin of updates and successes from our members before moving into a networking break. After reconvening, the plenary session began. Over the last few years, we have seen many changes to the energy efficiency industry – energy efficiency legislation, new State Corporation Commission (SCC) commissioners, unprecedented funding from federal and state programs, new model building codes, the ongoing fight over Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and more. This panel, Exploring the Energy Efficiency Landscape in 2024 & Beyond, explored how these changes affect Virginia and strived to answer the question: what’s next?

Speakers included:

    • Chelsea Harnish, Virginia Energy Efficiency Council: Along with moderating the session, Chelsea provided applicable policy updates from the 2024 General Assembly session. 
    • Will Cleveland, Lighthouse Policy & Law: Will discussed the Commonwealth’s regulatory landscape and changes to the State Corporation Commission.
    • Hadja Doumbouya, Virginia Energy: With ample federal programs providing funding to the Commonwealth, Hadja provided an overview of the Home Energy Rebate Programs (HOMES and HEAR) guidelines, updates, and eligibility. 
    • Sean Shanley, Viridiant: Sean provided an update on Virginia’s residential building code policy, including changes from the past year and what we can expect moving forward. 
    • Meghan McMillen, Community Housing Partners: As the Director of Weatherization with CHP and Board President of the Association of Energy Conservation Professionals, Meghan discussed the current status of weatherization across Virginia and what we can expect in the near future.

Once the event wrapped up, nearly 50 people joined us for an off-site happy hour where the networking continued well into the evening. Networking opportunities are still one of the key benefits our members value, and we are happy to provide these opportunities for connection and collaboration.

As always, this event would not have been possible without our sponsors, speakers, and attendees. We would also like to thank the VAEEC Education & Events Committee for helping staff plan such a successful event.

Be sure to save the date for our fall Energy Efficiency Forum– October 2nd (virtual) and October 3rd (in-person, University of Richmond). We hope to see you there.

Additional event information, including speaker biographies and sponsor features, can be found in the event program. Event attendees received a PDF of the event’s presentation in the post-event email. Contact info@vaeec.org if you did not receive it. Events photos can be viewed in the photo gallery below.