West Virginia legislators advance a solar leasing bill


The West Virginia Senate passed a bill that exempts solar power purchase agreements from state regulatory jurisdiction. The bill is an effort to encourage retail customer investment in solar energy.

The bill is an amended version of House Bill 3310 and contains a provision stating that solar energy facilities located on and designed to meet “only the electrical needs of the premises of a retail electric customer” do not constitute a public service. The provision goes on to state that the system’s output should not be subject to a power purchase agreement with the retail electric customer.

The exemption would be subject to certain conditions, including that the aggregate of all power purchase agreements and net metering arrangements for any utility may not exceed 3% of the utility’s total customer peak demand for the previous year.

In short, the bill provides for lease arrangements, where a customer has a solar system installed on their roof, owns the array, and also buys the electricity that is generated.

Another of the bill’s provisions limits generation facility sizes to 25 kW for residential customers, 500 kW for commercial customers and 2,000 kW for industrial customers.

Any legislation that promotes investment in solar is needed in West Virginia, which has installed just 11 MW of solar capacity, among the lowest amounts of any state. Of that total, almost all of it is from residential and commercial and industrial customers.

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