Energy Efficiency in Virginia Gets Boost from Governor’s Energy Package
Charlottesville, VA – The Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) commended Governor Bob McDonnell for including a key energy efficiency provision in the energy policy and budget package he presented to the legislature today. If passed the provision would enhance and accelerate the energy efficiency programs that utilities are able to offer Virginia homeowners and commercial property owners. (The Governor’s press release is online. You can read the bill here.)
“LEAP fully supports initiatives that break down the barriers to robust and cost-effective energy efficiency programs for Virginians. Everyone wins when we make it easier for utilities to offer – and for homeowners and businesses to take advantage of – beneficial energy efficiency programs,” said Cynthia Adams, Executive Director of LEAP. “Work performed in energy efficiency programs ultimately saves consumers money, provides a boost to the construction industry, and can stimulate local economies.”
Specifically, this legislation would deem an energy efficiency program “in the public interest” if the net present value of benefits exceeds the net present value of costs for three out of four utility cost tests. It also deems a program “in the public interest” if it provides measureable and verifiable savings to elderly and low income customers, individuals who are often at particular risk for increasing energy costs.
Virginia currently has a voluntary goal of a 10% energy efficiency gain by 2022 that utilities have embraced. However, regulatory hurdles have often prevented them from offering worthwhile programs to meet and exceed that goal. LEAP has been involved from an early stage in discussions about this initiative and was instrumental in forming the new Virginia Energy Efficiency Council (VAEEC) which has also advocated for the provision.
“The more Virginia is able to invest in energy efficiency solutions, the less power we have to supply through the construction of new power plants and the less we are exposed to the risk of increasing costs from purchasing our power outside the state,” said Adams, who also sits on the Steering Committee for the VAEEC.
The Governor’s support can help Virginia reap the benefits seen nationwide among states who have embraced energy efficiency as a key tool to address energy and economic issues. A report just released by the Institute for Electric Efficiency found that utility budgets for energy efficiency programs nationwide climbed to record levels in 2011, reaching $6.8 billion, 25% above 2010 levels. Virginia was one of six states that doubled their budgets in 2011. Altogether the report found that U.S. efficiency programs saved about 112 million megawatt-hours in 2010, enough to power 9.7 million American homes for the year.