Two eastern EEFA states have made large strides in energy efficiency. The “I Love NY” and “Virginia is for Lovers” states have spread some of that love to energy efficiency. Reforms in Virginia have doubled the weatherization budget of Dominion Energy’s low-income EnergyShare program. To date, EnergyShare has provided efficiency upgrades to more than 15,000 low-income apartments. And in New York, Gov. Cuomo has announced an ambitious energy savings plan that includes affordable housing.
The state of Virginia has adopted an overhaul to its energy regulatory policy that will result in significant benefits to utility customers. As part of the effort, EEFA partners contributed to negotiations with Virginia’s largest utilities that resulted in a commitment to invest $1 billion in energy efficiency programs, with a significant portion dedicated to low-income customers. Other reforms adopted include eliminating the over-reliance of the Ratepayer Impact Measure (RIM) test to assess energy efficiency program cost-effectiveness, creating a stakeholder group with the purpose of developing a portfolio of energy efficiency programs prior to proposing them to the State Corporation Commission, and the inclusion of the utility companies’ energy efficiency goals in their Integrated Resource Plans.
The reform requires Dominion Energy to spend $870 million on ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs through 2028, with 5% going towards low-income customers. In addition, Dominion Energy will continue and expand its EnergyShare program paid for by the company’s shareholders. EnergyShare provides energy assistance and weatherization services to low-income customers. The program was originally funded through 2019 only, but will now be extended through 2028 with double the annual weatherization budget compared to current levels.
Moving up the coast, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo used Earth Day to announce an ambitious plan to advance energy efficiency throughout the state. The Governor said that energy efficiency is the “most cost-effective way for New Yorkers to lower utility bills, curb harmful emissions and battle climate change.”
One aspect of the plan requires all utilities to improve energy efficiency and annual electricity savings until they reach the goal of powering 3% of all electricity demand through energy savings by 2025. This would be a large boost in energy efficiency from the state’s utilities who currently must only achieve a 1% annual savings. Other measures in the plan include a new training program designed to teach roughly 20,000 New Yorkers skills for a growing energy efficiency sector.
In a statement about the plan, the EEFA New York Coalition praised the Governor and emphasized the importance of ensuring that low-income residents of multifamily housing share in the benefits of this new policy:
“We applaud the Governor for setting energy efficiency targets for utilities, which is an essential step toward delivering programs that will help cut energy costs and reduce pollution for all New Yorkers. We’re particularly excited to see that the Governor’s plan emphasizes the need to bring energy efficiency to low-income families across the state. We look forward to working closely with the utilities, the State, and all stakeholders to ensure that New Yorkers who need it most – the 1.7 million low-income households living in older, less efficient multi-family housing – get the energy efficiency upgrades they need to live healthier lives, cut energy costs, and make housing more affordable.”