The Virginia State Corporation Commission approved a minimum bill of $55.10 for the state’s new “shared solar” program. “Shared solar” allows customers to sign on for a portion of off-site solar generation when rooftop solar is not a suitable option.
This represents the highest charge of its kind in the United States, and it has come under fire from Virginia senators and solar advocates. The program is administered by utility company Dominion Energy, which originally sought an even higher minimum bill of $75.10.
State Senators Emmett Hanger, Scott Surovell, and delegate Rip Sullivan wrote in a letter to the commission that the high charge undermined the purpose of the bill, which was designed to create a market for third-party developers to construct community solar facilities. Under Dominion’s “Shared Solar” program, third-party community solar projects developers sign up interested customers and sell the power to the utility, and customers receive a bill credit for the power generated by the project.
The approved legislation also set the rate for bill credits under the program. Customers are paid $0.11765/kWh; however, customers of Dominion Energy pay upwards of $0.124/kWh for traditional electricity, and rates are steadily on the rise. Generally, community or shared solar programs offer bill savings or at least price parity with the market, but under this program, the economics aren’t particularly attractive to residential customers.
“We did not pass legislation to create a program that exists in name only,” said the senators in their letter to the commission. “(The shared solar program) should be implemented with an underlying assumption that the program needs to work. A competitive shared solar program is a new and exciting frontier for Virginia, and we recommend taking serious consideration of the input provided by industry and advocates with regards to what has proven successful in other markets.”
Dominion argued the high charge is designed to offset the “cost shift” that non-participants would receive as a result of the program. The company has not yet provided evidence of how much of a cost shift would be borne by non-participants.
The “cost shift” argument is standard in the monopoly utility playbook for quashing distributed solar projects and third-party participation in their territories. Read about California’s struggle with the cost shift argument and a debunking of its false assumptions here.
“It is correct that the record does not include evidence that specifies exactly what cost shift would occur under Dominion’s proposed minimum bill, or any of the other proposed minimum bills,” wrote SCC Hearing Examiner Mathias Roussy.
“If Dominion were so concerned about the costs shifted to non-participating customers, it should have endeavored to support its proposal with evidence quantifying this purported cost shift,” wrote Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Will Cleveland in a brief for Appalachian Voices. “The failure to meet this burden of proof should not result in program participants bearing completely speculative costs that have not been proven with evidence.”
The legislation is expected to discourage the buildout of clean energy in the state, going in direct contrast with Virginia’s climate change mitigation targets.
“It will certainly deter many Virginians from participating in it,” said Tim Marvich, vice president of Apex Clean Energy. “It’s been a challenge working in the commonwealth,” he said.
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Start your own utility and buy anything you don’t produce yourself from the open energy market.
Looks like $33.00 of the $55 is the monthly customer charge Virginians already pay Dominion Energy, called “Distribution Service” for grid infrastructure and connection to same along with replacement of poles and transformers that have a 35 to 40 year service life and the wires attached to them, power yards and switch gear to keep the lights on year round.
At about $0.13/kWh rate for usage including Utility fees and taxes, the $22/month add on amounts to usage of 170kWh/month. Most customers will be over that unless they turn off their power for long periods of time when they travel/vacation.
Solar folks seem to be the main complainers, thinking everything should be free after putting panels on their roof.
Well then, disconnect from your utility, run extension cords to your neighbors and bill them for their share of your excess solar to help pay for storage batteries you use at night. Then increase your rooftop system to supply even more excess solar to charge your batteries…that you’ll be replacing every 10 years or so along with your extension cords.
I see utility scale solar with battery storage increasing everywhere. But everyone will benefit and must pay for costs associated with installation, maintenance and operation of solar farms. Slightly Lower rates should result from about 30% daily fuel savings from solar, but battery storage isn’t going to be able to carry grid load 24/7 when the sun doesn’t shine.
Fossil fuel and nuclear generation will always be needed for the bulk of the load. So, get over it.
State sanctioned utility monopolies all profit from the buildout of transmission, and can justify more buildout and more peak demand charges during times of high energy need on the grid.. By blocking rooftop solar, the utilities effectively keep demand high, especially at crucial high-demand times. The utility company business model is based on providing guaranteed income to a relatively few wealthy investors. It’s just another energy market manipulating exploitation model….…..like authoritarian petro-states & BigOil. A free market doesn’t look like that.
By 2027, maybe sooner, when Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) sales, including fleet & used vehicles, reach about 25% of the California market, owners of leased commercial property like large apartment buildings, neighborhood shopping centers & business parks will finally begin to feel market demand to install vehicle-to-grid (V2G) chargers with integrated rooftop or parking lot canopy solar & stationary battery storage. These relatively high power demand properties will become the hubs of 1 to 2 mile radius micro-grids networked across typical suburban neighborhoods. Electrical consumers, including lots of hard working lower income folks, will become “Produ-sumers” instead of just consumers of power, and reap grid stabilizing service fees from their connected BEV vehicles, at home &/or work. That’s how we get grid reliability & price stability with social equity to replace autocratic petro-states and fossil fuel & utility company monopolies. Think about how much reducing & stabilizing utility bills and transportation costs will benefit young families & everyone living on modest incomes. For a peek into the direction we’re headed, see:
Electric bills aren’t starving people any more than sales taxes, gasoline or proprerty taxes, college, medical, etc.
Live within your means is how I was brought up. Work harder or smarter too.
My solar NEM was a neat investment, but I also appreciate the kWh oer kWh offset is balanced in part on the backs of my neighbors as I use less energy from the grid, lowering Duke’s revenue and profits thereon. At 1% penetration in FL, rooftop solar is a flash in the pan.
Utility scale solar at 1/4th the installed cost will benefit everyone much better in the long run.
Duke’s stock (DUK) pays a 3.7% yield. And, anyone can buy it.
For that it’s better to just go offgrid.
And what you get when you elect Republicans, screwed.
If you run the numbers for off-grid even where it is allowed, the cost of batteries to service a breaker panel with 100A to 200A mains that today’s average household requires will run up to $50,000, eg: 5+ Power Walls.
Then you’ll need 50% to 100% more solar panels to charge those batteries with enough excess solar during long periods of dark stormy days to avoid blackouts or brownouts.
And 10 years out, you’re looking at replacing the batteries, or adding newer ones to the weaker string.
And if you live north of DC plan on up to double of those numbers.
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