Tag: policy

2020 Legislative Updates

2020

Week 9: Final 2020 Legislative Update

Happy Monday, members! At long last, the General Assembly Session has come to an end. It’s fair to say that this has been the most intense and momentous session for energy policy in decades, and we are incredibly happy to be a part of the progress. 

As we reported on Friday, SB 851, the Virginia Clean Economy Act, has PASSED! The bill has received media coverage in the Washington Post and GreenTech Media, and you can read our press release on this landmark legislation in our press room. The VCEA mandates 5% energy savings by 2025, with the SCC determining future savings in three-year blocks. The VCEA also removes the automatic opt out for industrial customers above 500kW and instead allows industrial customers above 1MW to opt out only after they have proven to the SCC that they are achieving energy savings through their own energy efficiency programs.

So what does that mean for the overlapping and/or conflicting bills that were heard in Session? 

  • HB 1526, the House version of the VCEA, passed through Conference with language identical to its Senate counterpart (SB 851). 
  • HB 1576 (Industrial opt-out) and HB 575 (EE stakeholder group) were both passed by the General Assembly, but as their language mirrors part of the VCEA, they will be subject to an internal review by the Governor’s office during the veto period. 
  • HB 1450 (standalone EERS) never made it to conference before the end of Session, as that language was identical to the VCEA. 

We are excited to share that the following bills have also passed:  

SB 754 provides a regulatory framework for electric cooperatives to seek approval from the State Corporation Commission to establish an On-Bill Tariff program for customers who want to perform energy efficiency upgrades to their residences. The cooperatives are already preparing for next steps on this program and have asked VAEEC to play a role in establishing the mandated stakeholder process, which we will keep our members apprised of.  

SB 963 requires each state agency to track energy and water consumption at 100% of their facilities by 2025. This goal was set at 80% by 2025 before leaving the Senate but was changed back to 100% when it left the house. It is possible that the Governor will amend this bill to change it back to 80%. VAEEC member, U.S. Green Building Council was instrumental in getting this bill passed and has secured in-person training opportunities for Virginia state agencies from staff at EPA’s Energy Star program.

HB 518 and SB 628 ensure that energy audits will now be listed in the VA Residential Disclosure Act as an option for homebuyers during the homebuying process. These bills have already been signed by the Governor.

After receiving the Governor’s signature, all bills will take effect on July 1st. 

Thank you to everyone who cheered on these bills, whether at the General Assembly or on the sidelines. We are committed more than ever to ensuring that the promising future laid out in this legislation becomes a reality. Don’t miss our Spring 2020 Forum on May 14th. We’ll discuss the effects of the new legislation and how members can stay engaged on these issues in our opening plenary panel.


Week 8

Happy Friday, members! As we turn the corner to the last week of Session, there’s still plenty of movement around energy efficiency to report.

The two conflicting versions of the VA Clean Economy Act – HB 1526 (Sullivan) and SB 851 (McClellan) – are going to a Committee of Conference to reach a compromise next week. A Committee of Conference is made up of three Delegates and three Senators. Two of the Delegates and two of the Senators will come from the majority party, and one will come from the minority party. We are keeping a close eye on this process to ensure that the energy efficiency piece of the bill remains strong.

HB 1450 (Sullivan), the stand-alone EERS bill, was passed through the Senate with a substitution that was ultimately rejected by the House. This bill will also go to a Committee of Conference, though it is currently unclear if it will be the same Conference as the VCEA.

On to the good news:

SB 754 (Marsden) unanimously passed both chambers and is ready to be signed into law! This bill provides a regulatory framework for electric cooperatives to seek approval from the State Corporation Commission to establish an On-Bill Tariff program for customers who want to perform energy efficiency upgrades to their residences.

HB 575 (Keam) passed the Senate with a substitution. This bill will expand the scope of the SCC energy efficiency stakeholder group. If the House accepts the substitution, this bill will also be ready to sign into law.

HB 1576 (Kilgore) unanimously reported out of the Senate Commerce and Labor committee. This bill raises the limit for industrial customers to opt-out of energy efficiency programs.

SB 963 (Surovell) has been referred to the House Appropriations committee. This bill establishes the Efficient and Resilient Buildings Board to advise the Governor on ways to accelerate improvements to state buildings in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

As we stated last week, HB 518 (Bulova) and SB 628 (Surovell) have passed through both chambers. Both bills ensure that energy audits will now be listed in the VA Residential Disclosure Act as an option for homebuyers during the homebuying process.

While they are not bills we formally endorse, we are happy to share the passage of HB 981 (Herring) and HB 654 (Guy). HB 981, the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act, commits Virginia to joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), while HB 654 establishes a state-wide administrator for C-PACE. These bills mark excellent progress towards a clean energy future.


Week 7

Happy Friday, members! It’s been another busy, whirlwind week in the General Assembly, though not quite as momentous as the past two. Before we launch into this week’s recap, we have an urgent action item: HB 1450 (Sullivan), the stand-alone EERS bill, is being heard in the Senate TODAY. We need all of you to call or email your Senators and voice your support for this legislation. HB 1450 establishes mandatory savings targets for Virginia’s investor-owned utilities based on 2019 retail sales to help Virginia families save money on their electricity bills. If you’re not sure who your legislator is, or how to contact them, use this handy tool from the GA website.

Moving onto this week’s updates.  We’re excited to announce that HB 518 (Bulova) and SB 628 (Surovell) have passed through both chambers and are headed to the Governor’s desk! Both bills ensure that energy audits will now be listed in the VA Residential Disclosure Act as an option for homebuyers during the homebuying process.

SB 754 (Marsden) unanimously reported out of the House Labor and Commerce committee. This bill provides a regulatory framework for electric cooperatives to seek approval from the State Corporation Commission to establish an On-Bill Tariff program for customers who want to perform energy efficiency upgrades to their residences.

SB 963 (Surovell) reported out of the House General Laws subcommittee on Professions/Occupations and Administrative Process, as well as the full General Laws committee. It has not been referred to the House Appropriations subcommittee on Compensation and General Government. This bill establishes the Efficient and Resilient Buildings Board to advise the Governor on ways to accelerate improvements to state buildings in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

As for the VA Clean Economy Act and its various components, we anticipate all of those bills being heard in the Senate Commerce and Labor committee on Monday- HB 1526 (Sullivan, House version of VCEA), HB 1576 (Kilgore, Industrial opt-out), or HB 575 (Keam, expanding EE stakeholder group)– and SB 851 (McClellan, Senate version of VCEA), in the House Labor and Commerce committee next week.


Week 6

Happy Valentine’s Friday, members! If you’ve followed the news at all in the past week, you know there is really only one word to describe the past week: HUGE. The Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) passed both the House and the Senate on Tuesday, marking a monumental shift in energy policy. VAEEC’s Executive Director has spent literally hundreds of hours in negotiations alongside clean energy business organizations and environmental advocates to get the landmark legislation passed. Delegate Sullivan, the bill’s sponsor in the House, said the VCEA will propel Virginia “into the future and into the top tier of states in terms of climate and energy policy.”

The bill has garnered national attention as well, having been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Virginian-Pilot, and Utility Dive. In our 2020-2022 Strategic Plan, we say Virginia is poised for revolutionary change. This week shows how true that is, and how far we have come as both a state and an organization. There are still hurdles ahead, as differences in the House and Senate versions of the bill must be reconciled before it can go to Governor Northam, but we are absolutely overjoyed at this enormous step towards a clean energy future.

And like that wasn’t enough good news for one week, there’s loads more to share:

The stand-alone EERS bill, HB 1450 (Sullivan) also PASSED the House, 75 to 24, with strong bipartisan support. It has now been referred to the Senate committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources, which is unusual, so we will be watching this closely. Additionally, VAEEC drafted a substitute for the patron to clean up some drafting errors and provide technical amendments, which have been reviewed by the investor-owned utilities and the coalition working on the broader VCEA.

HB 1576 (Kilgore) PASSED the House and has been referred to the Senate Commerce and Labor committee. This bill removes the automatic opt-out for industrial customers from paying for energy efficiency programs. It instead requires large consumers to prove their own energy savings before opting out of utility programs.

SB 754 (Marsden) unanimously PASSED the Senate and has been referred to the House Labor and Commerce committee. This bill provides a regulatory framework for electric cooperatives to seek approval from the State Corporation Commission to establish an On-Bill Tariff program for customers who want to perform energy efficiency upgrades to their residences.

SB 963 (Surovell) unanimously PASSED the Senate. It has been referred to the House General Laws subcommittee on Professions/Occupations and Administrative Process. This bill establishes the Efficient and Resilient Buildings Board to advise the Governor on ways to accelerate improvements to state buildings in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

HB 575 (Keam) passed the House and has been referred to the Senate Commerce and Labor committee. VAEEC drafted a substitute for the patron to align with language in both the VCEA and the EERS bills.

HB 518 (Bulova) and SB 628 (Surovell) passed the House and Senate, respectively. Both bills have also already passed out of committees in the opposite chamber and are going to the opposite chamber floor for a vote ensuring that energy audits will now be listed in the VA Residential Disclosure Act as an option for homebuyers during the homebuying process

Also, while it is not a bill we formally endorse, we are happy to share that HB 654 (Guy) passed the House, putting Virginia one step closer to launching a statewide C-PACE administrator.

We hope you all have a wonderful weekend, celebrating that not only is love in the air, but progress is too.


Week 5

Last night, for the first time ever, a mandatory Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) passed out of the House Labor and Commerce Committee with bipartisan support. The EERS mirrored the energy efficiency components of the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), which also passed out of that committee. “To say this is monumental is an understatement,” says our Executive Director, Chelsea Harnish, who was in attendance for this historic vote. “There are still hurdles ahead, but the passage of both HB 1450 and HB 1526 through the full committee is a massive and critical step for energy efficiency. We’re incredibly excited to be part of that success.”

The House Labor and Commerce committee’s final vote on HB 1526, the Virginia Clean Economy Act.

Chelsea has been working tirelessly, in hours of negotiations with a coalition of advocates from across the clean energy industry, to ensure that the EERS significantly raises the bar for energy savings. The EERS will require Dominion to hit a 2.5% energy savings target by 2025, which speeds up the spending timeline on the $870M commitment in the GTSA. The VCEA will put Virginia in the top 5 for climate change policy nationwide, and will make the state’s ACEEE energy efficiency score leap to at least the top 20 in their annual scorecard.

The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee will hold a special meeting this Sunday and will review all energy bills at that time.  As we lead up to Crossover on Tuesday, we will keep you updated on the progress.

Other Good News: 

HB 1576 (Kilgore) reported unanimously out of the House Commerce and Labor committee.

HB 575 (Keam) passed the House.

HB 518 (Bulova) and SB 628 (Surovell) passed the House and Senate, respectively.

SB 754 (Marsden) reported unanimously out of the Senate Commerce and Labor committee with substitutions.

SB 963 (Surovell) reported unanimously out of the Senate Finance and Appropriations committee.


Week 4

Happy Friday, members! It was another very busy week in the General Assembly. Clean energy advocates have been negotiating with the utilities all week to reach a consensus on the Virginia Clean Economy Act (HB 1526/SB 851) and those negotiations continue today. As always, if you need a refresher on the bills we’re supporting, check out last week’s blog post.

Onto the good news! We are excited to announce that HB 518 (Bulova) passed the House on Tuesday with a vote of 86 to 13. SB 628 (Surovell) also passed the Senate last week.

HB 575 (Keam) was unanimously reported out of the House Labor and Commerce committee and is on the House floor for consideration.

SB 963 (Surovell) reported out of the Senate General Laws and Technology committee with amendments, and was referred to Finance and Appropriations.

Also, while this is not a bill the VAEEC formally supports, we are happy to state that HB 654 (Guy), which will authorize the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to establish a statewide C-PACE program, reported unanimously out of the Cities, Counties, and Towns Land Use subcommittee yesterday.

None of our other bills were heard in last night’s House subcommittee meeting. HB 1450 (Sullivan), HB 1526 (Sullivan), and HB 1576 (Kilgore) will all be heard on Tuesday in the final subcommittee meeting before Crossover.

SB 354 (Bell), SB 851 (McClellan), and SB 754 (Marsden) will be in the full Senate Commerce and Labor committee on Monday. We would love to see as many members as possible on Monday and Tuesday come out to show their support for these bills.

VAEEC continues to oppose SB 613 (Suetterlein). The bill was passed by indefinitely by the Senate Commerce and Labor committee this week.


Week 3

Happy Friday! This week was incredibly busy and we saw a lot of action around many EE bills. Before we get to business, there are several important dates coming up:

The Senate Commerce and Labor Energy subcommittee will hear their bills next Monday, and the House Labor & Commerce subcommittee #3 will hear theirs next Thursday. Wednesday is also the AEE Lobby Day in support of the Virginia Clean Economy Act. These are all great opportunities to make sure your voice is heard, so we hope to see lots of members at the General Assembly. For a review of the bills we’re following, check out last week’s blog post.

We are happy to announce that the VAEEC Board has voted to formally support the following bills:

New HB 1526 (Sullivan) and SB 851 (McClellan) – The Virginia Clean Economy Act. The Senate version will be heard next Monday in the energy subcommittee of Commerce and Labor. The House version will be heard next Thursday in the energy subcommittee of Labor and Commerce.

New SB 754 (Marsden) – Provides a regulatory framework for electric cooperatives to seek approval from the State Corporation Commission to establish an On-Bill Tariff program for customers who want to perform energy efficiency upgrades to their residences. This bill has been assigned to the energy subcommittee of Commerce and Labor.

New HB 1576 (Kilgore) – Increases the threshold for industrial consumers to opt-out of energy efficiency programs from 500 kW to 1 mW. This bill has been assigned to the energy subcommittee of Labor and Commerce.

HB 518 (Bulova) and SB 628 (Surovell) – We are excited to report that SB 628 passed the Senate on Tuesday 28 to 14. The House version reported out of the General Laws and Technology committee and is on the House floor for consideration.

HB 575 (Keam) – Was unanimously reported out of the energy subcommittee last night.

HB 1450 (Sullivan) and SB 354 (Bell)- The Senate version will be heard next Monday in the energy subcommittee of Commerce and Labor. The House version will be heard next Thursday in the energy subcommittee of Commerce and Labor.

SB 963 (Surovell)- This bill should be heard in General Laws and Technology next week and will be referred to the Finance Committee by request.

HB 413 (Delaney) – The House Committee on Cities, Counties and Towns – Land Use subcommittee voted to kill the bill.

VAEEC continues to oppose SB 613 (Suetterlein). Various amendments have been provided to the patron by various entities, some of which would resolve our concerns with this bill. However, the docket for Monday’s Senate Commerce & Labor committee meeting has not been published, so we will continue to follow this for future updates.


Week 2

UPDATE 1/17/2020 2:23 PM: The VAEEC Board has voted to officially support HB 1450 (Sullivan)/SB 354 (Bell), HB 413 (Delaney), and HB 575 (Keam). 

Happy Friday! The second week of the General Assembly session saw a lot of activity, including a few new bills and plenty of information for our members. If you need a refresher on all the different bills that have been proposed, check out last week’s blog post and Wednesday’s legislative preview webinar.

At this time, the VAEEC Board and Policy Committee have voted to formally support HB 518 (Bulova), HB 574 (Keam), and SB 628 (Surovell). These bills add an energy audit analysis to the Residential Disclosure Act as an option for homebuyers to request during the home-buying process. HB 574 was rolled into HB 518, which unanimously passed out of subcommittee yesterday. SB 628 passed out of the full Senate committee on Wednesday and is now on the Senate floor for consideration.

The Board also voted to oppose SB 613 (Suetterlein). The bill prohibits all utilities and their affiliates from distributing “promotional” mail- both physical and electronic – to customers, including bill inserts, circulars, newsletters, and more. While the limitations of this bill may not have been intended by the patron, we feel it would curtail the ability to advertise and market utility energy efficiency programs.

The Policy Committee voted to recommend the following bills to the VAEEC Board for support. We are still pending Board approval at this time but will keep you apprised of future developments.

New SB 963 (Surovell)- Establishes the Efficient and Resilient Buildings Board to advise the Governor on ways to accelerate improvements to state buildings in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bill has been referred to the General Laws and Technology committee.

HB 1526 (Sullivan) and SB 851 (McClellan)- The Virginia Clean Economy Act. SB 851 has been referred to the Senate Commerce and Labor (C&L) committee. HB 1526 is pending referral to the House Labor and Commerce (L&C) committee.

HB 1450 (Sullivan) and SB 354 (Bell)- Establish a mandatory statewide Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS). HB 1450 has been referred to L&C subcommittee #3, and there is no update on SB 354.

HB 461 (Sullivan) – Extends the property tax credit for renewable energy upgrades, which includes energy-efficient geothermal heat pumps. The bill has been referred to the House Finance Committee.

HB 413 (Delaney) – Includes provisions to establish minimum standards for energy efficiency, as well as maintaining access to renewables in subdivision ordinances. The bill has been assigned to the House Committee on Counties, Cities, and Towns (CC&T), Land Use subcommittee.

HB 575 (Keam) – Expands the scope of the SCC-mandated energy efficiency stakeholder process. The bill has been assigned to L&C subcommittee #3.


Week 1

Wednesday was the first day of the 2020 General Assembly session and it is shaping up to be a very busy one! The following energy efficiency bills have been introduced, but as of yet, VAEEC has not taken any official positions. The VAEEC Policy committee will meet next week to review bills and make recommendations to the VAEEC Board. We hope to announce official positions on some bills in next week’s update.

With the change in leadership at the General Assembly, we are seeing a great deal of interest in legislation that advance both energy efficiency and clean energy more broadly. To make it easier to find bills that you may find relevant, we are grouping legislation into themes below.

The Virginia Clean Economy Act/ Clean Energy Standards

HB 1526 (Sullivan) and SB 851 (McClellan)- The Virginia Clean Economy Act. If you have heard any news about clean energy legislation in the past few weeks, it’s most likely been about this massive, sweeping legislation. These bills establish a carbon-free by 2050 plan that aligns with Governor Northam’s EO 43, which includes a mandatory Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS). Additionally, it establishes a mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard, codifies the Governor’s carbon rule, and includes provisions for coastal resiliency, battery storage, and offshore wind.

HB 1450 (Sullivan) and SB 354 (Bell)- Establish a mandatory statewide Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) that would require annual incremental energy savings from investor-owned utilities based on the annual average retail sales of the previous three years. The language in this bill is identical to the EERS portion of the Virginia Clean Economy Act.

SB 876 (Marsden) – Establishes a mandatory Clean Energy Standard to meet the 2030 and 2050 goals laid out in Governor Northam’s EO43. However, this bill solely relies on renewables to reach those goals. It does not mandate energy savings targets or mention energy efficiency at all.

Carbon Rule Codification/ Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)

While VAEEC has not taken a position on these types of legislation in the past, we have been more actively engaged this year in providing advice to bill patrons and the Governor’s office about the best ways to allocate funding for energy efficiency programs with the greater chance of passage this year.

HB 20 (Lindsey) – Codifies carbon rule, would use carbon cap and trade revenues to assist in resiliency, energy efficiency and renewable investments, as well as Southwest VA workforce training programs. This bill does not include a provision to join RGGI.

HB 981 (Herring) – Establishes a carbon cap and trade program with measures that are consistent with RGGI. The bill does not specify whether Virginia would join RGGI, however. The funds from this program would support coastal resiliency and floodwater management. This legislation is supported by Governor Northam.

HB 1152 (Lopez) – Establishes a carbon cap and trade program with the specific mandate that Virginia joins RGGI. The funds from this bill would establish an Energy Efficiency Fund, with 50% of the allowances going to general energy efficiency programs and 20% going toward low-income EE programs.

Tax Credits, Rebate Programs and Financing

HB 461 (Sullivan) – Extends the property tax credit for renewable energy upgrades, which includes energy-efficient geothermal heat pumps.

HB 633 (Willett) – Establishes a tax credit for energy-saving products.

HB 654 (Guy) – Establishes a clean-energy financing program to be administered by the VA Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

SB 634 (Surovell) – Creates the Energy Efficiency Subsidy Program, which provides subsidies for residential energy efficiency measures and establishes a rebate program for the lease or purchase of zero-emission vehicles.

SB 754 (Marsden) – Provides a regulatory framework for both investor-owned electric utilities and electric cooperatives to seek approval from the State Corporation Commission to establish an On-Bill Tariff program for customers who want to perform energy efficiency upgrades to their residences. The IOU programs would be limited to households who make less than $100,000 annually.

Other EE Bills

HB 413 (Delaney) – Includes provisions to establish minimum standards for energy efficiency, as well as maintaining access to renewables in subdivision ordinances. This bill could pave the way for newly-built smart communities.

HB 518 (Bulova), HB 574 (Keam), and SB 628 (Surovell) – Adds an energy audit as an option for homebuyers to consider as part of the homebuying process in the Virginia Residential Disclosure Act.

HB 547 (Delaney) – Establishes an Energy and Economy Transition Council to identify new economic development and job opportunities in areas that rely heavily on a fossil-fuel economy. After meeting with VAEEC members and staff, the patron has agreed to include clean energy representatives as members to the council.

HB 575 (Keam) – Expands the scope of the SCC-mandated energy efficiency stakeholder process. The language in this bill is identical to language in the Virginia Clean Economy Act.

HB 714 (Reid) – Updates language in the Virginia Energy Plan to align with Executive Order 43. While this bill does not currently conform to Senator Favola’s SB 94 (below), the intent is for the language in these two bills to be identical.

SB 94 (Favola) – Expands the scope of the Virginia Energy Plan to align with the Governor’s carbon-free by 2050 goals in EO43 and creates a stakeholder group to review these goals. After meeting with VAEEC members and staff, the patron has agreed to include clean energy representatives in the list of pre-approved stakeholders.

Don’t forget to register today for our legislative webinar next Wednesday, January 15th at Noon.  There are also several upcoming lobby days, so mark your calendars. They will be held on January 14th, January 29th, and February 6th. We will share more information about these dates as it becomes available.