Virginia’s improved efficiency offerings model success for the Southeast

(ACEEE blog, 9 May 2019) Virginia has recently made a major leap forward on energy efficiency and can serve as a successful model for utility efforts under consideration in Southeast states, including Louisiana, North Carolina, and Florida.

Virginia has recently made a major leap forward on energy efficiency and can serve as a successful model for utility efforts under consideration in Southeast states, including Louisiana, North Carolina, and Florida.

Virginia’s State Corporation Commission (SCC) issued a landmark order last week that approved a package of 11 new energy efficiency and demand response programs from the state’s biggest utility, Dominion Energy Virginia. Set to begin this summer and run through mid-2024, these programs will invest $225 million in customer programs and will deliver lower bills, greater comfort, and safer homes and workplaces for Virginia customers.

This action builds on Virginia’s 2018 Grid Transformation and Security Act (GTSA) and more than a decade of groundwork by energy efficiency advocates. It demonstrates how state legislatures, commissions, and utilities can show leadership in delivering the benefits of energy efficiency to customers. Other states in the region are poised to make critical decisions for energy efficiency. Will they follow Virginia’s lead?

Dominion’s increased commitment

Virginia’s utilities have long struggled to deliver the benefits of energy efficiency to customers. Dominion ranked 50 out of 51 utilities in the 2017 Utility Energy Efficiency Scorecard. However, with the GTSA’s passage, Dominion and neighboring Appalachian Power must together propose more than $1 billion for energy efficiency programs through 2028, with $870 million from Dominion alone. The legislation called for a good-faith commitment from Dominion to propose these programs, but did not guarantee regulatory approval.

Dominion submitted a proposal last October that was an acceptable first step, a 53% increase in investment in energy efficiency over its 2018 portfolio. It includes the first programs for Dominion residents in more than two years. However the proposal also counted “lost revenues” — the sunk costs of past infrastructure investments — into program costs, thereby potentially decreasing Dominion’s efficiency investment for customers.

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ACEEE blog, 9 May 2019: Virginia’s improved efficiency offerings model success for the Southeast