The General Assembly adjourned Sine Die on February 24, 2019, completing their legislative business for the regular short session. This year’s session builds on last year, which was one of the most aggressive at advancing clean energy policies in recent history. This year, conservatives sponsored and passed over a dozen pieces of legislation related to expanding clean energy in the Commonwealth.
Legislation passed includes expanding net metering in electric cooperative service territories, providing schools the ability to go solar and use net metering revenues to finance school modernization, and requiring the SCC to show their work when evaluating energy efficiency programs. Legislation was also passed that brought a compromise to decommissioning requirements of solar farms. CCE worked hard to help see the legislation passed, including testifying in sub-committee, full committee, and meeting with members to educate them on the benefits of clean and renewable energy growth in Virginia. CCE also worked with fellow stakeholders to defeat legislation that would have set back recent clean energy gains. As the regular session winds down, CCE continues to hold meetings with General Assembly members to educate them about the benefits of clean energy to the Commonwealth.
Members of the General Assembly should be commended for their strong support of advancing clean energy in the Commonwealth of Virginia. A full list of legislation sponsored by conservatives that passed the General Assembly can be found below.
HB 2547 (Hugo) / SB 1769 (Sturtevant) – Net Metering, Electric Cooperatives – The legislation lifts a net metering cap for cooperatives and allows their customers to install larger solar projects. The law raises the net metering cap to a cumulative total of 7% among a co-op’s mix of residential, nonprofit and commercial members. The legislation also allows residential customers within co-op territory to install enough solar to meet 125 percent of their energy needs. The previous limit was 100%.
HB 2008 (Garrett) / SB 1348 (Newman) – Energy career cluster. Requires the Department of Education, in consultation with representatives from pertinent industries such as renewable energy, natural gas, nuclear energy, coal, and oil, to establish an energy career cluster. The bill requires the Department of Education to base the knowledge and skill sets contained in such energy career cluster on the energy industry competency and credential models developed by the Center for Energy Workforce Development in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor.
HB 2192 (Rush) / SB 1331 (Stanley) – Modernization of public school buildings and facilities. Provides that public school buildings and facilities be designed, constructed, maintained, and operated to generate more electricity than consumed, and allows local school boards to enter into leases with private developers to achieve that goal. The bill also provides that private developers that contract with local school boards to modernize public school buildings and facilities may receive financing from the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority.
HB 2477 (Kilgore) – Electric utilities; licensed retail suppliers. Provides that customers of an incumbent electric utility that is required to obtain capacity for all load and expected load growth in its service area shall, if they that purchase energy from a supplier licensed to sell retail electric energy within the Commonwealth, continue to pay their incumbent electric utility for the non-fuel generation capacity and transmission related costs incurred by the incumbent electric utility in order to meet such customers’ capacity obligations. The measure reduces the advance written notice period applicable to such customers from five years to three years.
HB 2747 (Kilgore) / SB 1707 (Chafin) – Southwest Virginia Energy Research and Development Authority. Creates the Southwest Virginia Energy Research and Development Authority (the Authority) to promote opportunities for energy development in Southwest Virginia, to create jobs and economic activity in Southwest Virginia consistent with the Virginia Energy Plan, and to position Southwest Virginia and the Commonwealth as a leader in energy workforce and energy technology research and development.
HB 2789 (O’Quinn) – Direct the establishment of energy conservation measures providing incentives for the development of electric energy delivered from sunlight. Requires Dominion Power and Appalachian Power Company to a seek approval for a three-year program of energy conservation measures providing incentives to low-income, elderly, and disabled individuals in an amount not less than $25 million in the aggregate for the installation of measures that reduce residential heating and cooling costs and enhance the health and safety of residents. The measure also requires the utilities to develop a program of energy conservation measures providing incentives, open to low income, elderly and disabled individuals who also participate in the above-described incentive program, in an amount not to exceed $25 million in the aggregate, for the installation of equipment to develop electric energy derived from sunlight. The measure provides that the utilities may provide such incentives directly to customers or to organizations that assist low income, elderly and disabled individuals. The measure directs that in developing such incentive programs, each utility shall give consideration to low income, elderly and disabled persons residing in housing that a redevelopment and housing authority owns or controls.
SB 1091 (Reeves) – Site plan approval; decommissioning certified solar energy equipment, facilities, or devices. Requires a locality, as part of the local legislative approval process or as a condition of approval of a site plan, to require an owner, lessee, or developer of real property to enter into a written agreement to decommission solar energy equipment, facilities, or devices upon certain terms and conditions, including right of entry by the locality and financial assurance.
SB 1662 (Wagner) / HB 2292 (Sullivan) – Electric utilities; energy efficiency programs. Provides that any determination by the State Corporation Commission that an energy efficiency program is not in the public interest shall include with its final order the work product and analysis conducted by the staff of the Commission in making that determination.
Other legislation CCE supported
SB 1584 (Suetterlein) / HB 2117 (Mullin) – Electric utilities; retail competition; renewable energy. Allows customers of an investor-owned electric utility to purchase electric energy provided 100 percent from renewable energy from any licensed supplier. *did not pass
HB 2293 (Sullivan) / SB 1605 (Ebbin) – Electric utilities; stakeholder process for energy efficiency programs. Requires the independent monitor chosen to facilitate the energy efficiency stakeholder process established for the purpose of providing input and feedback on the development of electric utilities’ energy efficiency programs to convene meetings of the participants not less frequently than twice each calendar year between July 1, 2019, and July 1, 2028.
HB 2741 (Aird & Morefield) – Clean Energy Advisory Board; low-to-moderate income solar loan and rebate pilot program and fund. Establishes the Clean Energy Advisory Board (the Board) as an advisory board in the executive branch of government for the purpose of establishing a pilot program for disbursing loans or rebates for the installation of solar energy infrastructure in low-income and moderate-income households.
The budget directs funding for a position within the Division of Energy to be used to assist localities with siting, procurement, land use concerns, and other solar-energy related issues. The final adopted budget removes funding proposed in House Bill 1700 as introduced for the development of a revolving loan fund and loan-loss reserve fund intended to incentivize private investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, alternative fuels, and similar conservation-related projects in the public and private sectors. The final budget also removes funding to establish the Office of Offshore Wind.