RD872 - Clean Energy Advisory Board 2021 Annual Report – January 1, 2022
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 program (the “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 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.
Since the passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, Virginia has been working to fundamentally transform the Commonwealth’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.
This year the Board has continued to explore how to create a sustainable Program which will expand cost-effective solar energy opportunities to reduce energy burdens and increase access to clean electricity for LMI communities across Virginia. The Board and staff from the Virginia Department of Energy (“Virginia Energy") conducted national and state program research, worked closely with the Clean Energy States Alliance on Program design, participated in stakeholder meetings regarding low-income participation in shared solar facilitated by staff at the State Corporation Commission (the “Commission") and Virginia Energy, and consulted with all three of the investor-owned utilities in the Commonwealth on solar programs for low and moderate income customers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing inequities, 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.
The Board is committed to launching a sustainable LMI Solar Fund to serve those who can benefit the greatest from solar installations. Designees of the Board will work closely with Virginia Energy to issue a Request for Proposals (“RFP") in the first quarter of 2022 in order to select a financing and solar installation partner for a pilot program that is a precursor to the Program. The issuance of this RFP will represent a significant milestone in the progress toward implementing the Program. The Board hopes 2022 will bring additional opportunities to continue to expand its work as it has become even more important.