RD45 - Clean Energy Advisory Board 2020 Annual Report – January 13, 2021
In 2019 the Virginia General Assembly passed HB 2741 establishing the Clean Energy Advisory Board (the “Board") as an advisory board in the executive branch of the state government. The stated purpose of the Board is to establish a pilot program (“Program") for disbursing loans or rebates for the installation of solar energy infrastructure that will benefit low-income and moderate-income households through the “Low-to-Moderate Income Solar Loan and Rebate Fund" (“LMI Solar Loan and Rebate Fund"). The enabling legislation requires the Board to prepare and submit to the Governor and the General Assembly an annual report for publication as a report document, which shall include an executive summary of the interim activity and work of the Board.
With the recent passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act (“VCEA") and Governor Ralph Northam’s Clean Energy Virginia initiative, Virginia is on the path to fundamentally transform the state’s electricity generation and grid. The Board’s mission is to ensure that low-to-moderate income (“LMI") Virginians are not left behind in this energy transition.
Despite the obstacles referenced in this annual report, the Board has worked tirelessly in 2020 to explore and create a sustainable program which will expand cost-effective energy efficiency and solar energy opportunities to LMI communities across Virginia.
The Board has risen to the challenges of 2020. Despite working in a global pandemic and a socially distanced state of emergency, the Board and staff from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) conducted national and state program research, participated in a regulatory rulemaking process at the State Corporation Commission (the “Commission"), adopted Bylaws to govern Board conduct (See Appendix A) and consulted with the Commonwealth’s largest investor-owned utility, all with the goal of creating greater energy equity through solar for LMI customers in Virginia. While inequities existed before the pandemic, COVID-19 has exacerbated these issues, leaving an unprecedented number of utility customers with arrearages, and demonstrating the need to reduce high energy burdens. Solar energy technology, paired with energy efficiency measures, has been proven to reduce electricity expenses while also supporting clean energy goals. But the barriers for lower income customers to benefit from these opportunities remain. The Board is committed to launching a sustainable LMI Solar Loan and Rebate Fund to serve those who can benefit the greatest. We hope 2021 will bring additional opportunities to continue and expand our work as it has become even more important.