On October 1, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam released the 2018 Virginia Energy Plan. Developed by the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), the plan is the governor's 10-year strategic vision for energy policy in the Commonwealth. After conducting a robust stakeholder process, DMME’s plan delivers a set of recommended policy changes and programs intended to support the Commonwealth in a transition to a more resilient, clean and affordable energy system.
Energy efficiency is one of the five specific policy tracks discussed in the plan. DMME recommendations build off the Grid Transformation and Security Act, which Gov. Northam signed into law earlier this year. A specific focus is placed on expanding utility investment in cost-effective energy efficiency programs, as set forth in the act. Recommendations also refocus on achieving the established statewide goal of reducing retail electricity consumption by 10 percent by 2022.
Overall, the Energy Plan reflects many approaches outlined in USGBC’s submitted comments. These cost-effective energy efficiency strategies include increased state lead-by-example efficiency programs, support for local government and increased energy efficiency financing opportunities.
Highlights of the plan
Leading by example in state buildings
Despite notable progress, the state fell short of former Governor Terry McAuliffe’s original goal to reduce electricity consumption in state facilities by 15 percent by 2017. However, to continue the trajectory of the 15 percent goal, DMME recommends Gov. Northam establish a goal to reduce energy consumption in state buildings by 20 percent by 2022. Establishing this new target would represent a willingness from Gov. Northam to double down on the the state’s commitment to lead by example in state buildings.
In working toward this target, DMME recommends many programs in line with USGBC-recommended best practices. Some of these recommendations include attaching minimum conditions to all funds for construction, supporting local government programs, developing a state clearinghouse for data management, and expanding the existing energy data warehouse to include usage at all state-owned or -leased buildings and local governments already benchmarking their public buildings. USGBC advocates for adding even greater transparency through a publicly accessible list of high-performing buildings and of progress toward the energy reduction goal as DMME and state agencies implement these initiatives.
Setting an energy performance contracting target for state-owned buildings
Energy Performance Contracts (EPCs) are one of the Commonwealth’s most successful financing tools to achieve cost-effective energy reductions in public buildings. To further capitalize on the energy saving potential of EPCs, DMME recommends setting an EPC target for state-owned buildings, evaluating a separate goal for high education facilities, and expanding EPC options to include rooftop solar and preparation for electric vehicle infrastructure.
Enhancing state-level support for local C-PACE programs
Despite their many benefits, local C-PACE programs have grown far more slowly than expected in the Commonwealth. DMME states a goal to expand C-PACE programs to at least a dozen local government programs over the next three years. DMME also highlights its participation in the Mid-Atlantic Alliance (MAPA) project, a regional project providing valuable tools and resources to local governments to help expedite implementation of C-PACE programs.
In the toolkit, MAPA recommends that local C-PACE programs require building owners to obtain an energy audit through the Investor Confidence Project (ICP). The ICP’s Investor Ready Energy Efficiency (IREE) certification helps ensure projects follow industry best practices and accepted standards so that project owners have more reliable savings projections and increased confidence in predicted financial returns on investments.
USGBC applauds Gov.r Northam’s goals to expand energy efficiency programs in the state and his continued leadership and commitment to our shared goal to move the Commonwealth forward on the path to a clean energy economy.
Contact us for further information or questions regarding the 2018 Virginia Energy Plan.
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