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Governor signs into law clean energy legislation backed by Minchew, Schaufeld

Tuesday, May. 9, 2017 by Trevor Baratko | Loudoun Times-Mirror
  Gov. Terry McAuliffe signs into law 11 pieces of clean energy legislation. He was joined by Leesburg state Del. Randy Minchew (R), right, and local solar power advocate Karen Schaufeld, standing behind McAuliffe in the white.
Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday signed into law 11 clean energy bills that promote solar and other renewable energy efforts, including two measures championed by Republican state Del. Randy Minchew of Leesburg.

The bipartisan pieces of legislation are part of the governor and lawmakers' continued push to diversifying Virginia's economy and energy sources.

Minchew's HB 1712, signed Monday, allows for the continued use by state agencies and localities of Energy Performance Contracting as a financing tool to reduce energy consumption and increase energy savings through building and facilities improvements.

Minchew also served as chief patron of HB 2303, which along with SB 1394 creates a framework to generate renewable energy at agriculture facilities and how that energy can be sold to utilities, a practice sometimes referred to as “farming the sun.” Those bills were also signed in Richmond Monday.

Both measures were heavily advocated for by Leesburg-based solar power advocate Karen Schaufeld. Schaufeld and her husband have constructed a sprawling, 474 kW array of solar panels on her farm between Leesburg and Lucketts.

Minchew, in a prepared statement, said HB 2303 “was the product of a year-long mediation effort between investor-owned utilities, electrical cooperatives, farmers and rural business operators, and renewable energy stakeholders and that will allow agricultural landowners to ‘farm the sun,’ become energy independent, and help increase renewable energy production throughout our commonwealth.”

“While you may never read about it in the newspapers, we have many moments of bipartisan cooperation and success in the Virginia General Assembly,” Minchew stated on his Facebook page following the bill signing. "This morning, two Republican members, two Democratic members, a cabinet secretary who has served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, and Loudoun's own incredible solar energy advocate, Karen Schaufeld, joined Gov. McAuliffe at the Executive Mansion for a clean energy bill signing ceremony where he signed two of my bills into law."

Gov. McAuliffe said it's “clear that Virginia is moving in the right direction, especially with the recent announcement of record growth in our solar industry.”

“Together, with our partners in the General Assembly and the private sector, I will continue to implement policies that bolster the entire clean energy industry in the commonwealth,” the governor said in a prepared statement.

According to Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore, state revenue from the clean energy sector has increased from $500 million to $2 billion since 2014.

Additional bills signed by McAuliffe Monday include:

SB 1393 – Senator Frank Wagner – Authorizes Community Solar Pilot Programs

SB 1393 creates a path for the creation of community solar programs in the service territories of Appalachian Power Company (ApCo), Dominion, and the Electric Cooperatives. Each utility will develop its own territory-specific program that allows citizens and businesses the ability to “subscribe” to receive electricity generated by a small centrally-located solar generation system.

SB 990 – Senator Roslyn Dance (and Delegate Rip Sullivan) – Energy Efficiency Goal Progress Report Requirement

SB 990 requires the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to report annually the progress the state is making toward achieving the codified voluntary goal of reducing energy consumption in Virginia by 10 percent by 2022 from 2007 levels.

SB 1258 – Senator Adam Ebbin - Changes the Virginia Solar Energy Development Authority to the Virginia Solar Energy and Battery Storage Development Authority

SB1258 expands the mission of the Virginia Solar Energy Development Authority to include the promotion and development of battery storage technology. The bill increases the composition of the Authority by four seats

SB 1395 – Senator Frank Wagner – Size of projects eligible for Permit by Rule

SB 1395 increases the allowable maximum size of renewable projects to be eligible to be permitted through the Permit by Rule (PBR) process from 100MW to 125MW. It also exempts projects that are being built for use by a single customer of a utility from having to apply for and receive a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the SCC. This bill was put forward by the so-called “Rubin Group.”

HB 1565 – Delegate Michael Webert – Local Option to Create Green Development Zones

HB 1565 allows localities to establish “green development zones” where businesses can receive special taxing and zoning treatment for buildings and facilities that are determined to be energy efficient or the manufacturing of products that are beneficial to the environment.

HB 1760/SB 1418 – Delegate Terry Kilgore and Senator Ben Chafin - Pump Storage Electric Generation Facilities in the Public Interest

HB 1769 and SB 1418 are identical bills that place pump storage electric generation facilities in the public interest. This makes it easier for new pump storage projects to receive by the SCC.

HB2390 – Delegate Terry Kilgore – Power Purchase Pilot Program creation in Southwest Virginia

HB 2390 establishes a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) pilot program in the service territory of Appalachian Power Company (ApCo). Permitted participants in the pilot are private colleges and universities located within the ApCo territory.
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2016 In Due Course

Dear Constituents,

     As a follow up the 2016 Legislative Highlights publication I mailed earlier this spring, I am pleased to share the 2016 In Due Course, a publication written by the non-partisan Department of Legislative Services.  This document provides a detailed review of the bills signed into law by the Governor that will become law on July 1, 2016.  This summary of legislation reflects many of the issues I have worked for, on your behalf, including issues related to the economy, job creation, transportation, government reform, taxation issues, judicial issues, and education.  

      My staff and I are always ready to serve you and we take pride in constituent service on any matter concerning our Virginia state government. We can be reached in my district office at 703-777-1570 and by email at DelRMinchew@house.virginia.gov. I also have a Facebook page, maintain an active website at www.DelegateRandyMinchew.com, and occasionally post tweets at @randyminchew on Twitter.

     Our district is blessed with profound scenic, historic and community resources, has the benefit of excellent schools, and is populated with citizens who love their families, work hard, and earnestly care about their communities.  I cannot imagine serving finer people.

      With best personal regards, I remain,

 

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Gov. McAuliffe Signs Bill Aimed at Boosting Rural Broadband

05-24-16

By Danielle Nadler

Loudoun Now

It was hailed as big step toward bringing faster Internet to rural western Loudoun.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was in neighboring Clarke County Tuesday to sign House Bill 912, which essentially allows broadband providers to install fiber and other infrastructure needed for high-speed Internet along gravel roads.

Del. Randy Minchew (R-10), a co-sponsor of the bill, said crafting the legislation was an effort of a lot of invested parties, including broadband providers like Comcast. A suggestion made by the providers was to allow them to install fiber conduit underground along gravel roads. That is less expensive than installing it above ground on poles because electrical companies charge a per-pole fee, Minchew said.

The companies will still need to obtain a permit from the Virginia Department of Transportation, he noted. But representatives from several broadband providers who attended the bill-signing told Minchew they plan to line up for permits when the law takes effect July 1.

“Hopefully, after July 1, we’ll see some much-needed broadband being laid,” he said.

He’s seen firsthand the need for faster Internet in much of Loudoun and its neighboring counties. He’s been at a winery when workers could not process credit card payments because of a poor Internet connection, and has run into students working on homework at Starbucks at 10 p.m. because they do not have access to high-speed Internet at home. “When kids can’t do their homework at home, that’s a problem,” he said. “Broadband is not longer a nicety in rural areas, it’s really a utility.”

As part of the bill-signing ceremony, McAuliffe also announced a new statewide initiative to better understand where Virginia has the largest gaps in broadband coverage. RUOnlineVA, which launched Tuesday and will run through early August, will use an online demand capture tool created by the Center for Innovative Technology and Virginia Tech’s Center for Geospatial Information Technology.

Virginia residents in need of Internet service are asked to log onto RUOnline.virginia.gov or call 877-969-6685 and answer a few questions regarding where they live and what level of connectivity they have. Responses will be aggregated, mapped, and shared with state leaders and the public to stimulate broadband policy and funding discussions throughout the remainder of the administration.

“Broadband has become as essential as any utility for maintaining a high quality of life in our communities and meeting our economic and workforce development goals. Yet too many Virginia communities lack access to reliable, fast and affordable Internet connections,” McAuliffe said during the event. “RUOnlineVa is an important way for the Commonwealth to engage citizens and the private sector in fully understanding the problem and working to find solutions.”

The governor’s visit to the state arboretum came just hours after CNN reported that McAuliffe is under investigation by the FBI over donations to his 2013 gubernatorial campaign. Among the donations that drew investigators’ interest was $120,000 from a Chinese businessman, according to the report. An attorney representing the governor was quoted as saying that contributions to the campaign from Wang Wenliang were completely lawful.

dnadler@loudounnow.com
twitter.com/danielle_nadler

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Delegate Minchew Speaks at Piedmont Environmental Council Press Conference

PEC practices what it preaches on solar energy

By Cassandra Brown, Staff Journalist, Fauquier Now


The Piedmont Environmental Council showed off Warrenton’s largest solar installation Tuesday morning. 

The $34,000 project on Horner Street includes 38 panels on the roof of the non-profit’s new five-story addition, completed last fall. 

By investing in renewable energy, the PEC hopes to encourage homeowners, businesses and farms to consider that option through its “Solarize Piedmont” campaign.

“It’s largely a matter of doing what we are preaching,” PEC Senior Energy Policy Analyst Rob Marmet said. “We created more (energy) demand by increasing the size of our building and wanted to offset that.” 

In November, the PEC completed the $3-million renovation and expansion of its office at 45 Horner St. The project included a geothermal heating/cooling system, LED lighting and other energy-saving measures. 

Solar Solutions for All of Leesburg installed the panels over two weeks in March. 

Measuring 39 by 65 inches, the panels will help offset the entire 9,800-square-foot building’s electricity costs. 

“Our purchase of electricity from Dominion is expected to be cut in half,” PEC President Chris Miller said. 

The solar panels will produce about 16,000 kilowatts of electricity annually, saving an estimated $2,000 on power bills. 

“Over a 25-year lifespan, we expect as high as a 7.5-percent rate of return” annually, Mr. Miller said. “And it happens to be a good financial decision that also created local employment, increased energy security, will reduce our electric demand at peak hours and will reduce overall emissions for years to come.” 

The PEC last summer launched the “Solarize Piedmont” campaign with the Charlottesville-based LEAP (Local Energy Alliance Program) and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission.

More than 300 home and business owners showed interested and 11 installed solar panels during the first program. 

An average residential solar installation costs $20,000 to $25,000. But the 30-percent federal tax credit brings the cost down, according to Bri West, PEC’s director of outreach and communications. 
Photos/Lawrence Emerson
Del. Randy Minchew (R-10th/Leesburg) supports legislation that would encourage more solar energy installations in Virginia.
The “Solarize Piedmont” program provides free assessment of a house to determine if it is a good candidate for solar, financing options and panel installation. 

“We are acting as an agent to vet contractors . . . It saves a lot of people six months to a year of homework,” LEAP Executive Director Andrew Grigsby said. 

This year’s “Solarize Piedmont” program runs through June 15 and is open to residents of Albemarle, Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Greene, Loudoun, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock counties.

Del. Randy Minchew (R-10th/Leesburg) noted that Virginia lags behind other states in support for solar energy.

For example, in neighboring Maryland, Frederick County solar installations product 21.8 megawatts of electricity, more than in the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.

 


 
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Loudoun Now Article 03-21-2016

Heroin Town Hall Meeting Spurs Calls for More Support Services in Loudoun

Sheriff_Chapman.jpg
Loudoun’s law enforcement and political leaders addressed a packed house during a town hall meeting Friday to discuss steps they are taking to curb the epidemic of abuse of heroin.

While they highlighted progress on a multitude of initiatives, those in the crowd—many of whom had experienced the helplessness of dealing with an opioid-addicted family member or friend—said the county lacks the support services they need.

More than 60 residents crowded into the DEA Museum in Leesburg.

Standing amid the exhibits that highlighted the personal and social ravishes of drug abuse, Sheriff Mike Chapman updated residents on efforts taken since the formation of the regional Heroin Operations Team one year ago. Those include the development of more educational and prevention programs and the training of some deputies to administer Naloxone, which can—and in one Loudoun case, has—provide life-saving treatment in opioid overdose cases.

Scott W. Hoernke, assistant special agent in charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration, discussed his department’s public education efforts, including the Project Purple Initiative in Loudoun schools. However, he also highlighted a recent development in which drug dealers are lacing heroin with Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate more potent than morphine, and leading to more fatal overdoses. In some cases, he said, drug users are dead before they can fully inject the lethal combination.

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Del. Randy Minchew and Sen. Jennifer Wexton discuss legislative efforts to combat opiate abuse during a March 18 town hall meeting in Leesburg.

U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10), Del. Randy Minchew (R-10) and Sen. Jennifer Wexton  (D-33) highlighted legislative efforts to address the problem. In Richmond, the General Assembly has adopted laws to encourage friends to report overdoses without fear of prosecution for their own drug use, to make Naloxone more available to the public, and to better monitor opiate prescriptions being written by doctors.

“We’ve tried for a long time to arrest ourselves out of this problem,” said Wexton, who served on the Governor’s Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse. Now, she said, there is a growing focus on treatment, with $2.4 million per year included in the new state budget. In Congress, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, approved by the Senate, promotes the establishment of alternative incarceration programs and outpatient treatment options for non-violent drug offenders.

Comstock, like many in the room, learned about the strength of opiate addiction through the experience of a family friend who was prescribed painkillers after suffering a sports injury.

“It is such a deadly and dangerous drug,” Comstock said. “Most important is that we all understand this can hit everybody.”

Supervisor Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) also discussed her family’s experience with addiction, including a childhood friend’s fatal overdose. “It can happen in any family. It tears families apart,” she said.

Nick Yacoub, of the Substance Abuse Addiction and Recovery Alliance, provided a bit of hope. Wearing a “Celebrate Recovery” T-shirt, Yacoub, the night’s featured speaker, talked about his addictions to heroin and alcohol and the 2007 DUI arrest in Leesburg that landed him behind bars. That put him on the road to recovery through a year-long jail stay, a couple of inpatient treatment programs and 10 months in a sober living facility. “It has been an amazing journey,” he said.

“Recovery is not about bad people trying to be good. It is about sick people trying to get well,” Yacoub said.

More Help Needed

During the question and answer portion of the meeting, those in the audience made it clear more help was needed—more treatment options, more support for addicts in jail, and more programs like drug courts.

A father who recounted the frustrations of being unable to find treatment for his daughter drew applause when he questioned why the county would spend millions of dollars to build artificial turf fields at high schools, but provide no treatment centers. “Our priorities are wrong,” he said. “Shame on us.”

An Ashburn mother shared the story of her son, once a promising athlete who became addicted to prescription medication and whose drug use continued even after the fatal overdose of his best friend.

Today, her son is in jail. “That was the best damn day of my life. He is alive,” she said.

He was arrested after buying heroin in Baltimore. On past drug runs to the city, she has since learned, her son was shot at and had flat-lined in the back of an ambulance.

At times her son has sought help. She recalled him telling her, “I’m 22 and I’ve lost more of my friends than my grandparents have.” But there are few treatment options available, she said.

Even in jail where a high percentage of inmates are drug addicts, there are few resources, she said, noting that Narcotics Anonymous sessions are offered only once a week.

Pressure to reestablish the county’s drug court grew during the meeting.

In 2012, the Board of Supervisors ended the program, in which non-violent offenders were intensely supervised and counseled rather than being sent to jail.

Loudoun was among the first Virginia jurisdictions to establish the drug court as a pilot program in 2004. Today, there are more than three dozen drug courts across the commonwealth and more being established, including in nearby Winchester.

In Loudoun, the $284,000 program died with a 4-3 vote, with those opposing the funding saying it didn’t produce enough results.

That thinking may be changing.

“I heard a lot of good things about the drug court in my campaign,” Supervisor Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) said. “I know the drug court works and it worked.”

Buffington said he met with retired Circuit Court Judge Thomas D. Horne, a leading proponent of the drug court, and plans to meet with Clerk of the Circuit Court Gary Clemens to discuss the options. A key challenge, he and Volpe said, would be finding judges willing to commit the extra time to supervise the program.

“We will have the conversation to look into what we can do,” Buffington said. “If we could do it, it would be great.”

Chapman said a drug court could be part of the comprehensive community effort to address the problem.

“You have legal violations. You have disease issues. You have rehabilitation and treatment. There are a lot of aspects to this and we are trying to address it from every possible way. Not any one thing works all the time,” Chapman said. “What we are trying to do is find out what works in what circumstance and address it the best we can for whatever circumstance we encounter.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Loudoun Times Mirror Minchew-Wexton Crossover Recap

Last week marked the midway point of the 2016 General Assembly session, known as “Crossover.” Each chamber has completed its work on our own members’ bills, and those that passed have moved on to the other chamber. There have been a number of controversial issues and some unexpected bipartisan solutions reached this session.

A major compromise deal restored Virginia concealed weapon permit reciprocity with other states, and created a new system for State Police to perform voluntary background checks to be completed in conjunction with purchases at gun shows. The final part of the deal makes it a felony for anyone subject to a domestic violence permanent protective order to possess a firearm while the order is in effect. 

Additionally, there was a compromise reached concerning I-66 inside the Beltway. Under pressure from legislators, the administration agreed to proceed immediately with widening I-66 from two to three lanes from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston with design commencing immediately and the new lane being open for traffic as early as 2019. Prior to this compromise, there was only a promise that this new lane might be considered in 2020 after tolling operations began in 2017. Both of us saw that as unacceptable and voted against this concept last November as members of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission. We are pleased to report that the $140 million appropriation necessary for immediate widening was included in both the House and Senate biennial budgets released this week.

Proposed reforms to Virginia’s charter school laws have also been hotly debated this session. The authority to approve charter schools has historically been vested in local school boards under the Virginia Constitution, and an amendment to it was proposed that would transfer charter-granting authority from these local school boards to the State Board of Education. It is interesting to note that while Virginia only has nine public charter schools, two of these nine are in Loudoun due to openness that our local school board has shown concerning charter school concepts brought forward by parents. Other school boards, however, have been less open to the concept of approving charters. The charter school reforms considered by both houses consisted of two bills: first the constitutional amendment bill, containing simple language proposed for inclusion into the Virginia Constitution, and second, the implementing bill, containing more detailed language governing how the Board of Education would consider charter school applications if the constitutional amendment was approved by the voters. The House approved the constitutional amendment, HJ1, on a narrow 52-47 vote, with Del. Randy Minchew voting yea, but did not approve the implementing bill, HB 565 on a 46-53 vote with Del. Minchew voting nay. Both the Senate companion to HJ1, SJ3, and the Senate companion to HB 565, SB734, failed in the Senate on identical 19-21 votes with Sen. Wexton voting nay on both bills. 

House and Senate bills that will radically alter the rules concerning the conditional zoning (“proffer”)  system in Virginia have passed the House and Senate this session. In Loudoun, the proffer system has been used since the early 1980’s to help offset the capital costs of new infrastructure (roads, schools, etc.), the need for which is generated by the proposed development. In Loudoun, the proffer system has allowed the County to manage growth while balancing the financial burden between developers and the taxpaying public. Neither of us supported these bills in our respective houses of the General Assembly. Given that the House and Senate versions of these bills differ in many ways, both remain works in progress post-Crossover.

Finally, as lawyer-legislators, we both hope that we will see a resolution over the impasse concerning the appointment of new Virginia Supreme Court justice. A highly-qualified Fairfax County Circuit Court judge, Jane Roush, was given an interim appointment on the Virginia Supreme Court last summer by Gov. McAuliffe, but that appointment only lasted until Feb. 13 and the House and Senate have not been able to reach agreement on whether she will be appointed to a full 12-year term on our commonwealth’s highest court. 

We look forward to seeing all of you back home in Loudoun.

State Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D-33rd)

State Del. Randy Minchew (R-10th)

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Clarke County and Berryville Declared Appalachian Trail communities

On Monday, I spoke in Berryville at a ceremony where Clarke County and the Town of Berryville were declared to be official Appalachian Trail communities by the National Park Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. 

 

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2015 In Due Course Publication

In Due Course, is a publication written by the non-partisan Department of Legislative Services that provides a detailed review of the bills signed into law by the Governor that will become law on July 1, 2015.  This summary of legislation reflects many of the issues I have worked for, on your behalf, including issues related to the economy, job creation, transportation, government reform, taxation issues, judicial issues, and education. Click here to view this year’s In Due Course.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about these new laws that will come into effect July 1, 2015.

 

My staff and I are always ready to serve you and we take pride in constituent service on any matter concerning our Virginia state government. We can be reached in my district office at 703-777-1570 and by email at DelRMinchew@house.virginia.gov. I also have a Facebook page, maintain an active website at www.DelegateRandyMinchew.com, and occasionally post tweets at @randyminchew on Twitter.

 

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Official Reelection Announcement

Yesterday, In the historic, old courthouse in downtown Leesburg, I formally announced my intention to seek a third term to the Virginia House of Delegates.

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Letter to Constituents on Transportation Funding

Click here to view the letter that I sent out last week to my constituents in the eastern part of the 10th district regarding funding for transportation projects in our district. 

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