RD301 - The 2022 Report of the Independent Monitor on the Status of the Virginia Energy Efficiency Stakeholder Process

Executive Summary:

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 utilize a stakeholder process to gather and receive input and feedback for the development of proposed energy efficiency programs. The intended result is to have petitions that are filed with the State Corporation Commission for its review and approval, 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 independent 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 fourth year of the stakeholder process, by the independent monitor is submitted in accordance with Chapter 397.

Stakeholder Process

Between July 1, 2021, the submission of the last annual report, and June 30, 2022, the stakeholder groups for Appalachian Power (Phase I Utility) have met twice and Dominion Energy Virginia (Phase II Utility) have met four times. Meetings were used to inform stakeholders of the status of program recommendations from previous years, develop program recommendations for the utilities’ next filing, and to discuss topics of interest raised by the stakeholders, including discussions of recommended program performance through EM&V reports. For the Phase II Utility, subgroup meetings of the DEV Agenda/Process, Policy, Program Implementation, EM&V, and Qualifying Income groups were held during the report period to discuss related topics and ideas.

The Appalachian Power stakeholder group has 162 current members, and the Dominion Energy Virginia stakeholder group has 308 current members, which represent an increase of 32.8 percent and a 30.5 percent respectively for each group from the previous year. Each utility’s stakeholder group represents over 20 different types of organizations, including the utilities, SCC, Virginia Department of Energy (DOE, formerly the Department of Mines and Minerals and Energy), local government, energy conservation organizations, energy efficiency organizations, program implementers, and low-income advocacy and assistance organizations.

Stakeholder Objectives

For the 2022 filing year, the independent monitor did not facilitate the development of specific programmatic or process objectives by the stakeholders as part of the stakeholder meetings. This was due in large part to different priorities for the stakeholder groups. For APCo, the process for the previous year generated one program and the utilities proposals had exceeded the goal. The stakeholder group did not see a need to add subgroups to the APCo process or to address specific needs, instead anticipating learning about the results of previously approved recommendations. For DEV, stakeholder feedback focused more on diving deeper into creating and commenting on the development of the Long-Term Plan and ensuring that the EM&V reports provided clear information of interest to the stakeholders. Subgroups were utilized to identify specific issues that could be brought to the utility’s attention for consideration and discussion. Ten DEV subgroup meetings were held between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022.

2022 Program Recommendations

In preparation for the 2022 filings, the stakeholders provided input on program design ideas for the utilities’ consideration. The input was developed using stakeholder meetings and program design templates that could be submitted to the independent monitor and utilities after the meetings. Since several programs were approved for the first two years of the program, filed in 2019 and 2020, and launched in 2021 and 2022, and a new set is awaiting approval (filed in 2021), there was a smaller set of recommendations for 2022.