Governor McAuliffe chose Earth Day 2015 as the fitting time to sign several pieces of clean energy legislation into law, including a pair of bills promoting energy efficiency. The new clean energy laws include two energy efficiecny priorities: Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, and a clarification to the Conservation and Ratemaking Efficiency (CARE) Act which regulates the state’s natural gas utilities.The PACE legislation is the culmination of many years of work to have Virginia join the majority of states that have successfully implemented the program. PACE is a loan program that can be implemented by localities, allowing commercial property owners to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy measures for their properties and repay the loans as special assessments. VAEEC Board Member Bill Greenleaf of Virginia Community Capital spearheaded the successful campaign.
The update to the CARE Act clarifies how efficiency programs proposed by the gas utilities are evaluated by the State Corporation Commission. The change, supported by the utilities and the SCC, promises to result in more robust efficiency program offerings for Virginia customers. PACE financing provides a substantial new option to expand opportunities for commercial property owners. The CARE Act clarification, by providing a better measure of the true cost effectiveness of utility efficiency programs, promises to bring new opportunities to Virginia consumers. These two laws are a significant step forward for energy efficiency in the Commonwealth, and that means lower energy bills, cleaner air and local jobs. We have much more to do to reach the state’s energy goals, but this year’s General Assembly session was a home run for energy efficiency.