A listening to this week will decide how a lot prospects may pay for photo voltaic — and if a brand new program has an opportunity to succeed.
November 15, 2021
Simply weeks after Virginia opened its first shared photo voltaic program, the end result of a listening to this week threatens to undercut the financial initiative within the state, kneecapping it earlier than it ever begins.
The Nov. 18 listening to within the State Company Fee will think about whether or not the commonwealth will grant Dominion Power its proposed minimal invoice, which photo voltaic advocates say would problem the brand new program’s skill to serve prospects in any respect.
“What’s at stake is the viability of this system,” says Hannah Coman, affiliate common counsel for Apex Clear Power.
The shared photo voltaic legislation included the power for regulators to set a minimal month-to-month invoice that may account for the prices of implementing the system. However conflicting calculations between the legislation’s supporters and the utility have left a large gulf.
“Our proposal was for a minimal invoice to be underneath $10—basically $7 or $8 for a residential buyer,” says Charlie Coggeshall, senior analyst for the Coalition for Neighborhood Photo voltaic Entry. Dominion’s proposal, alternatively, was a minimum of $75 and as much as about $95. “It’s simply so huge that it’s going to kill the extent of subscriptions. It gained’t make it worthwhile from a buyer’s perspective and certain undermines the economics of this system utterly.”
Such a excessive cost, photo voltaic advocates say, violates the aim of a minimal invoice and undermines the intent of the laws that was handed in 2020.
“When it was written, the intent was that there needs to be a minimal invoice that actually covers the incremental prices of this system for the utility, and nothing extra,” continues Coman. “If you happen to went on trip, and also you didn’t use any electrical energy whilst you have been gone, you’d nonetheless come again and must pay the utility $75 in the event you have been signed up for this program, which is absurd.”
Proponents say Dominion’s proposal is an underhanded strategy to kill this system.
“You simply don’t like the truth that there was a clear power legislation for shared photo voltaic handed,” says Karl Rábago of Rábago Power LLC, “and so that you’re going to attempt to undermine it.”
If Virginia’s shared photo voltaic program works as meant, an formidable 30% of mission capability is reserved for low-income prospects, who stand to achieve probably the most from the decrease power payments that shared photo voltaic would create. Regardless that low-income prospects are exempt from the minimal invoice necessities, if the speed is about too excessive, it could have program-wide implications.
“With a $75 minimal invoice, no one would see sufficient worth to subscribe,” provides Rábago. “If these subscriptions don’t occur and the entrants don’t come to the market to supply this service and develop these amenities, then low-income prospects won’t get the advantages.”
A part of the issue, says Coman, is that Dominion’s proposal doesn’t account for the grid-wide advantages of transferring some prospects to shared photo voltaic. “Because the grid turns into extra distributed, there can be much less congestion on the grid.”
That, she says, would profit all prospects—not simply these signed up to make use of photo voltaic power. And that’s along with the financial and societal advantages that domestically produced clear power brings.
“Renewable power, particularly when it’s constructed domestically in Virginia, creates jobs in Virginia,” Coman provides. “Permitting individuals to purchase clear power that has been generated right here in Virginia is a part of an open, aggressive market.”
“We’re supposed to permit free markets to succeed, and we’re purported to reward those that put their capital in danger to attempt to discover a higher strategy to do issues,” provides Rábago. “If we let the utilities stifle these packages for no different cause than they need to monopolize energy technology, then disgrace on us.”