Home Energy and Environment Vote Your Power: Community Choice Energy in Virginia

Vote Your Power: Community Choice Energy in Virginia

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by Morris Meyer

Community Choice Energy is an energy policy innovation [1] that gives communities a tool to combine their load and purchase cleaner and cheaper power on the open power market.  Community choice legislation has been enacted in California, Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, Rhode Island, and New Jersey, and Community Choice legislation is under study in Utah, Minnesota, and Delaware.

Virginia already has municipal and state aggregation legislation on the books. (https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title56/chapter23/section56-589)

Community Choice Energy lets communities vote their power mix to select power generation that meets the standards set by the political subdivision. Community Choice Energy lets a county, municipality, state agency, or other political subdivision specify their generation mix with the incumbent energy provider.  Community Choice Energy lets communities purchase power from renewable projects nearby.  Aggregating community load locally helps create jobs to build energy generation nearby.

The Environmental Coalition of Northern Virginia comprises 350 Loudoun, Virginia Sierra Club, Our Revolution NoVA, and others.  This coalition urges support  to let rate payers lock in cheap, local power for their communities.

We have worked with Virginia Environment and Renewable Energy caucus chair Alfonzo Lopez to help draft an amendment. We are reaching out to delegates to patron this legislation as a late-draft bill.

The bill amends and reenacts § 56-589 as follows:

Any municipality or other political subdivision may aggregate residential, commercial, and industrial loads. (1)

Any municipality or other political subdivision may aggregate buildings, facilities, and other government operation electrical loads. (2)

Two or more municipalities may aggregate buildings, facilities, government operations without licensure pursuant to § 56-588.

Any authorization by a governing body for the aggregation of electrical energy pursuant to subdivision (1) or (2) may specify a minimum percentage of aggregate electrical energy to be generated from renewable energy sources.

The Commonwealth, at its election, may aggregate the electric energy load of its governmental buildings, facilities, and any other government operations requiring the consumption of electric energy for the purpose of negotiating the purchase of electricity from any licensed supplier within the Commonwealth. Aggregation pursuant to this subsection shall not require licensure pursuant to § 56-588.

Nothing in this section shall preclude municipalities from aggregating the electric energy load of their governmental buildings, facilities and any other governmental operations requiring the consumption of electric energy for the purpose of negotiating rates and terms, and conditions of service from the electric utility certificated by the Commission to serve the territory in which such buildings, facilities and operations are located, provided, however, that no such electric energy load shall be aggregated for this purpose unless all such buildings, facilities and operations to be aggregated are served by the same electric utility.

[1] Heeter, Jenny, and Joyce McLaren. Innovations in Voluntary Renewable Energy Procurement: Methods for Expanding Access and Lowering Cost for Communities, Governments, and Businesses (Technical Report). No. NREL/TP-6A20-54991. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, CO., 2012.

  • LaureenMT

    I believe Delegate Kathy Tran will be sponsoring HB1253 on this topic. Eager to follow this bill.