In 2009, Virginia’s Commission on Energy and the Environment selected me to serve as the Chairman of the Subcommitte on Conservation, along with Richard Stuart (R-Stafford).
Senator Stuart and I had multiple meetings around the Commonwealth. We invited people from all industry sectors to show us ways that Virginia could save costs by reducing energy usage. We had some great presentations, which eventually led to legislation.
Some of those bills passed, some did not. (For example, my bill on “inclining block rates” which rewarded consumers who cut back on energy usage died in Committee).
One bill of mine that did pass was SB 112, the SAVE program. In this case, SAVE means “Steps to Achieve Virginia’s Energy plan.” The bill was sponsored on the House side by Delegate Sam Nixon (R-Chesterfield).
The bill was simple. Basically, it allowed natural gas utilities propose a capital program approved by the State Corporation Commission in order to upgrade their aging infrastructure. Many of these systems were built out on the Sixties and Seventies, when Virginia was undergoing a building boom. Now they badly need an overhaul.
Senate Bill 110 was approved unanimously by both houses in 2010 and signed by Governor McDonnell. It became the law on July 1, 2010.
In Virginia alone, those investments will lead to over $100M in capital construction and repair by year 2016. The benefits are many. First, it promotes the use of a Virginia product (natural gas), as a domestic alternative fuel. Second, it reduces leaks and spills caused by aging pipes and fittings, which cause environmental damage and lead to higher consumer bills. Third, it creates construction jobs in Virginia.
The SAVE program petitions have been filed with the SCC. Once approved, the actual renovation and construction will begin in 2012.
All this started with a public meeting in 2009 where the idea was raised (ironically by a constituent living in Braddock). Now it’s the law.