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Finding the Silver Lining in 2020

From the Desk of the Executive Director

Like many organizations, LEAP came sailing into the year 2020 with the wind in its sails – only to be slammed into the rocky shoals that are COVID-19. All was not lost though, and kudos to the LEAP crew who salvaged remnants of the “ship” and turned it into another vessel that once again has the wind in its sails – and definitely heading in the opposite direction of those COVID-19 shoals.

As the “captain” of said ship, and looking toward the horizon (2021), I see new opportunities in both LEAP’s bread-and-butter energy-efficiency and renewable energy/solar work. 

Legislation passed many years ago is driving these opportunities with a new low-income energy-efficiency program for Dominion Energy customers called HB2789 (could use a catchier name) kicking off next month. What is different about HB2789 is that it will allow for heating and cooling system replacement – something that wasn’t broadly allowed previously. A solar opportunity tied into it will become available in 2022 for any home that participated in the original program (this portion is awaiting expected SCC approval mid-year).

Another chunk of money provided through RGGI allowance sales should also flow to low-income energy-efficiency work by mid-2021. While the exact programming hasn’t been defined yet, a stakeholder group will finally be convened on the 15th of December to define which existing weatherization programs should receive additional funds. LEAP believes that the Weatherization Assistance Program we administer would be a natural vehicle to deliver the benefits to low-income Virginians throughout the state.

On the solar energy side, LEAP is starting the year with a Solarize campaign to take advantage of Dominion’s new Time-of-Use program. While potentially less of a game-changer for those with existing solar PV systems, a battery pack should allow for interesting arbitrage opportunities while also adding resiliency (power when the power goes out!) to a home with or without solar. Payback periods for such battery systems will probably be in the 10-15 year range, but hey, better than nothing (which was the previous state of affairs for home battery storage solutions).

Getting back to the sailing ship analogy, while clear skies (no COVID-19 worries!) and beautiful sunsets (new programs!) are on the horizon, there is still plenty of tricky navigation to take place in the near term. The captain and crew of LEAP’s proverbial ship appreciate all of the support provided by our supporters and partners as we worked to salvage the ship and chart a new course. We thank you and wish you a comfy 2021 – oh, make sure to call us if you need help with the “comfy” part. 🙂

Regards, Chris

*PS: Apologies for the sailing ship analogy, but my creative writing maxes out at already well-worn analogies. Feel bad for my (brilliant, clever, borderline genius**) marketing manager, who has to rein me in (i.e., edit these notes) when I push my creative limits – which is probably way too often!

**Marketing Manager’s modest additions

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