By Mary Shoemaker, State Policy Analyst
Governor Ralph Northam’s new 2018 Virginia Energy Plan (VEP), released earlier this month, rounds out a busy year for clean energy policy in Virginia. It contains policy and program recommendations that will, if thoroughly implemented, deepen energy savings and expand clean energy in the Commonwealth. It proposes that the governor establish a goal to reduce energy consumption in state buildings 20% by 2022, continue robust energy savings performance contracting, and practice more-thorough energy data management. The VEP also proposes a cumulative statewide combined heat and power target and reinforces the value of state and private financing for customer energy efficiency programs. ACEEE is glad the VEP includes several recommendations we put forward in our comments. Now it is time to put them into action.
The VEP and SB 966
While the state government is already a leader on energy efficiency, utilities in Virginia have historically invested minimally in it. In a recent ACEEE ranking of the 51 largest US electric utilities on energy efficiency programs and policies, Dominion Energy Virginia (Dominion)—the largest utility in the Commonwealth—ranked 50th. But soon, that could change. Earlier this year the Virginia General Assembly passed the Grid Transformation and Security Act (SB 966) to require Dominion and Appalachian Power Company (APCo) to ramp up spending on efficiency programs and the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to engage stakeholders in planning. The VEP echoes these requirements. While SB 966 should drive significant utility sector energy savings, it is not a done deal. Utilities will still need to have efficiency programs approved by regulators, who have historically relied on outdated cost-effectiveness testing methods and rejected programs that would almost certainly gain approval in other states…
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