The stage is set for a total transformation of the energy-efficiency industry in Virginia. With the passage of the Grid Transformation and Security Act of 2018, the electric utilities in Virginia have committed to proposing over $1 billion for energy-efficiency programs over the next ten years. However, none of these commitments are actually guaranteed.
The Virginia Energy Efficiency Council (VAEEC), a member-based organization headquartered in Richmond, is dedicated to ensuring that these commitments come to fruition. Energy efficiency is one of the easiest, most direct ways to save consumers money on their monthly bills while spurring economic development, cutting emissions, and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Utility-sponsored programs are one of our top priorities, as they are among the largest opportunities to expand energy efficiency in the state.
Recognizing potential obstacles to fulfillment of the goals set by the Grid Transformation and Security Act, we crafted several pieces of legislation for the 2019 General Assembly session, which were all successfully signed into law last month.
First, HB 2292 will require the SCC to provide an analysis of how a budget reduction would affect the cost-effectiveness of an energy efficiency program or set of programs.
Second, HB 2293 will strengthen the stakeholder process, which we see as the biggest opportunity to ensure the utility commitments become reality. This law will require an independent monitor to report on the stakeholder process, addressing whether objectives are met and whether helpful recommendations to programs are being proposed and implemented. Before this law was passed, it was not required for utilities to note such information regarding the stakeholder process itself in their annual reports.
Together, these two laws will help ensure that the goals of last year’s legislation are fulfilled and that programs are not cut without good reason.
Utility-sponsored programs can benefit Virginians in a variety of ways throughout the Commonwealth. Ratepayers will win with lower monthly energy costs, businesses will win with lower operating costs and the economy will win with more jobs and economic activity, creating jobs that cannot be exported out of state. Research from E4TheFuture, consistent with VAEEC’s own 2017 report, found that Virginia has 76,621 jobs in the energy efficiency industry, comprising 24% of all construction jobs and 42% of all energy sector jobs.
In short, the VAEEC knows that investments in energy efficiency mean new jobs in every corner of Virginia, better rates for consumers and lower operating costs for businesses. The passage of the Grid Transformation and Security Act underscores the widespread, bipartisan agreement that energy efficiency is a smart investment for the Commonwealth and for consumers. We’ve built a lot of momentum, and we’re looking forward to witnessing the positive effects of energy efficiency in the near future.
Chelsea Harnish is executive director of the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council.
Update: The State Corporation Commission announced this morning that it had approved a package of 11 new energy-efficiency and demand-response programs requested by Dominion Energy Virginia as well as an updated rate adjustment clause to cover the costs of Appalachian Power’s current programs. The Dominion package will cost an estimated $225.8 million. The ApCo adjustment will cost $5.68 million.There are currently no comments highlighted.