RD224 - The Report of the Independent Monitor on the Status of the Energy Efficiency Stakeholder Process – 2020
During the 2018 General Assembly session, legislation was approved relating to electric utility regulation, grid modernization, and energy efficiency requiring Appalachian Power (APCo) and Dominion Energy Virginia (DEV) to each develop a proposed program of energy conservation measures. Each utility is required to utilize a stakeholder process to gather and receive input and feedback for the development of proposed energy efficiency programs to be filed with the State Corporation Commission (SCC) for review and approval. The intended result is to have petitions that are filed with the SCC for its review, that have included the knowledge, expertise, and buy-in of the energy efficiency stakeholders so that implementation will contribute to the desired energy conservation goals of the state.
Chapter 397 of the 2019 Virginia Acts of the Assembly, as directed by § 56-585.1 of the Code of Virginia, mandates that the process must be facilitated by an independeAnt monitor, to ensure representation of stakeholders, progress toward obtaining input and feedback, and to report on the stakeholder process objectives, stakeholder recommendations, the status of the recommendations, and status of petition filings. This report, describing the second year of the stakeholder process, by the independent monitor is submitted in accordance with Chapter 397.
Between July 1, 2019, the submission of the last annual report, and June 30, 2020, the stakeholder groups for Appalachian Power (Phase I Utility) and Dominion Energy Virginia (Phase II Utility) have each met three times. For each utility, one meeting was used to inform stakeholders and solicit their feedback to solidify the proposed program recommendations for the 2019 petition filing. The purpose of the remaining meetings held during this period were to keep stakeholders updated about the status of the 2019 filing and to develop program and portfolio recommendations for the 2020 filing.
During the meetings, stakeholders had multiple opportunities to generate ideas for energy efficiency programs, specific conservation measures, prioritize their recommendations, and offer feedback on initial proposed programs from each utility. To maintain ongoing communication meeting notes have been provided to stakeholders and a collaborative online site, one for each utility-based stakeholder group, is used as a repository to house all documents and communication between the meetings.
The Appalachian Power (APCo) stakeholder group has 107 current members and the Dominion Energy Virginia (DEV) stakeholder group has 195 members, which represent an increase of 11.2 percent and 13.8 percent respectively for each group from the previous year. Each group represents over 20 different types of organizations, including the utilities, SCC, Department of Mines and Minerals and Energy (DMME), local government, energy conservation organizations, energy efficiency organizations, program implementers, and low-income advocacy and assistance organizations.
In 2020, the General Assembly amended and reenacted the governing legislation. The amended legislation now includes the following provisions that directs the stakeholder process to provide input and feedback on:
(i) the development of such energy efficiency programs and portfolios of programs;
(ii) compliance with the total annual energy savings and how such savings affect utility integrated resource plans;
(iii) recommended policy reforms by which the General Assembly or the Commission can ensure maximum and cost-effective deployment of energy efficiency technology across the Commonwealth; and
(iv) best practices for evaluation, measurement, and verification for the purposes of assessing compliance with the total annual energy savings.
The revised legislation expanded the identified stakeholder representatives to include participation from
• Relevant directors, deputy directors, and staff members of the Commission [State Corporation Commission] who participate in approval and oversight of utility energy efficiency savings programs.
The legislative changes reflect input provided by stakeholders in the 2018-2019 (2019) stakeholder process and will begin July 1, 2020 for the 2020-2021 (2021) stakeholder process and subsequent years and will be reported in future annual reports.
The objectives developed by the stakeholder groups for the 2020 can be summarized into the following thematic areas:
• Develop and propose cost effective programs to help save money and energy that will be approved by the State Corporation Commission.
• Continuously improve the program recommendations and the stakeholder process with innovative and creative ideas and approaches.
• Increase communication and trust between the stakeholders.
• Increase the diversity of representation and participation in the stakeholder groups.
• Obtain input and prioritization for the development of the utilities’ 2020 proposed energy efficiency programs/petition filings and facilitate ongoing feedback and discussion about conservation measures.
• Learn more about the process and how it works (from the newer members).
While not listed as specific objectives, each of the stakeholder groups placed importance on three areas they wanted to ensure that the 2020 programs incorporated. These were:
• Increase programs for low-income customers
• Ensure customer engagement and increased education programming
• Enhance and expand non-residential programs.
All of these ideas are integrated into the 2020 program recommendations.