Testimony of Chelsea Harnish, Executive Director
Virginia Energy Efficiency Council
Virginia State Corporation Commission
March 8, 2016
Good morning members of the Commission. My name is Chelsea Harnish and I am the executive director of the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council (VAEEC). The VAEEC is a broad coalition that works to assess and support programs, innovation, best practices and policies that advance energy efficiency in Virginia while providing a forum for stakeholder interaction. Before joining the VAEEC, I was the energy campaigns manager for the Virginia Conservation Network.
My working experience has given me an acute awareness and understanding of the energy and conservation challenges the Commonwealth faces, and I am here to support Dominion’s efforts.
The lowest cost electricity is the electricity consumers don’t use. Energy efficiency programs help consumers reduce their consumption, thereby providing a cost-effective energy source.
These utility programs will also help the commonwealth meet its voluntary goal of reducing retail electricity consumption by 10 percent by 2020.
For residents, there is great value in Dominion’s proposed Residential Programmable Thermostat Program. In addition to the rebate customers will receive for the purchase and installation of the WiFi thermostat, the most beneficial takeaway is the usage data that will provide useful information back to consumers about their consumption patterns, including volume and peak usage times, which can in turn inform smarter consumer decisions.
Extending the expiring Air Conditioning Cycling Program, which pays participants $40 a year to agree to have their air conditioning units cycle during peak summer days, is also imperative for Virginia. While I don’t have stats on the success of the program, I do know that having consumers cycle their air conditioning during peak demand is one way our utilities’ providers can help manage through high peak periods.
On the business side, the Small Business Improvement Program will be an important addition to Dominion’s efficiency portfolio because it focuses on a market that is traditionally difficult to reach through efficiency programs. The program will allow participating businesses to update aging energy systems with more cost-efficient versions at a fraction of the cost. Updating infrastructure will allow businesses to save money by operating more efficiently and potentially allow them to reinvest those savings to grow their business.
On behalf of the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council, I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to support these practical yet meaningful energy efficiency programs. The proposed programs are worthy of endorsement and I hope we can all experience the benefits of increased energy efficiency throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Thank you for your consideration regarding this matter.