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Solar energy

Maryland Solar Groups Seek Community Solar Utility Consolidated Billing

On March 20th, the Climate Access Fund and Solar United Neighbors of Maryland filed a petition asking the Maryland Public Service Commission to require Maryland utilities to provide consolidated billing for subscriber organizations participating in Maryland’s Community Solar Pilot Program. The petitioners want utilities to include community solar subscription charges on customer bills. Today, subscriber organizations have to separately bill community solar subscribers. The stated objective of the petition is to make consolidated billing available for low and moderate income customers, helping to improve the economics of participating in the program. Two alternatives are proposed in the petition: (1) consolidated billing for all subscriber organizations or (2) consolidated billing for low and moderate income-focused community solar projects only.

We will be on the lookout for a response from the Commission and opportunities to comment on the community solar consolidated billing proposal. If you would like to review the filing, a copy of the petition is available on the Maryland Public Service Commission’s website: Mail Log # 224384.

For more information about Maryland’s Community Solar Pilot Program, check out our previous blog posts:

Maryland Proposes Community Solar Pilot Program Regulations
Community Solar Growing in Mid-Atlantic
Continued Progress for Community Solar in Maryland

If you have questions or would like more information about community solar projects or other regulatory issues, contact Eric Wallace or any of our mid-Atlantic energy lawyers.

Solar Powers Augusta Schools

We were really excited last week when our good client, Secure Futures, was out in Augusta County Public Schools (ACPS) to talk about the installation of a total of 1.8 megawatts of solar power across seven campuses. ACPS, with more than 5,000 solar panels deployed, is the largest solar energy system of any public school division in Virginia. Some excellent coverage of this initiative is here. Augusta County students created some great posters about how much they love solar and those are featured on the Secure Futures homepage.

Secure Futures’ partnership with ACPS meant the school division had no capital investment for this solar project. Additionally, and most importantly, they receive monthly savings on their utility bill by using the electricity generated by the solar panels. ACPS has a special webpage where you can look at their solar energy production in real time. Pretty cool!

If you want to know more about solar energy issues in Virginia or have legal matters that involve solar or other renewable energy resources, contact any of our Virginia energy lawyers.

Client Alert: Dominion In the Market for Solar, Wind

On October 24, 2018, Dominion Energy Virginia (Dominion) announced and issued an RFP seeking 500 MW of solar and on-shore wind generation. Projects must be at least 5 MW. Interested bidders can propose to either sell Dominion the project development assets or sell energy to Dominion under a Power Purchase Agreement. Projects must be located in the Commonwealth of Virginia to be eligible.

The RFP schedule is as follows:

Intent to Bid forms due: This Friday, November 2, 2018
Proposals to sell development assets due: December 13, 2018
Proposals to sell energy (PPA) due: March 14, 2019
RFP concludes: Second Quarter 2019

Dominion has pledged to have 3,000 megawatts of new solar and/or wind energy under development or in operation by early 2022. Dominion also announced that it will issue formal RFPs on an annual basis until the 3,000 MW target is met.

If your company has questions or would like any additional information regarding the Dominion RFP, please contact one of our renewable energy attorneys or utility attorneys.

Back at Solar Focus!

We are very proud to be among the great sponsors of Solar Focus 2017 here in Washington DC!  We are looking forward to another great conference and supporting the continued growth of solar generation in the Mid Atlantic!

If you are here, please join us for coffee this morning.

Charlottesville Sets Sights on Renewables

future of renewables meetingIndustry and business leaders in Charlottesville are poised to put a big effort behind renewable energy at the upcoming Tom Tom energy program April 13 & 14. “Innovations in Energy: Future of Renewables” is the agenda on Thursday, April 13 (6PM) at the Paramount Theater. The next day, they will be launching the Charlottesville Renewable Energy Alliance at a Founders Summit Luncheon, an initiative that will positively impact Charlottesville’s community and economy. A number of our clients and friends are among those spearheading this new focus.

We’re definitely showing up and we hope you will look for us when you join the crowd at this innovative new group. If you have any questions about the renewable energy initiative or renewable energy development, please call Eric Hurlocker or any of our energy lawyers.

SCC greenlights Dominion plan to build 20 MW solar facility in Fauquier County

sunset-solar-squareOn Wednesday, February 1, the Virginia State Corporation Commission approved an application filed by Dominion Virginia Power to construct and operate a 20 MW solar generating facility near the town of Remington, in Fauquier County. Virginia. Dominion will sell the output of the facility to the Commonwealth of Virginia under a 25-year power purchase agreement. Dominion estimates that the total cost of the project will be $46 million. The terms of the agreement, however, including the price that the state agreed to pay for the energy, are confidential and were not disclosed to the Commission.

The SCC rejected Dominion’s first application to build and operate the Remington facility in 2015. In the 2015 case, Dominion sought to increase customer rates in order to pay for the Remington project, which would have provided power to all of the company’s retail customers. But the Commission rejected Dominion’s application after finding that the company had not complied with a Virginia statute requiring it to consider third-party alternatives. Specifically, Virginia law requires utilities, when proposing to build new generation facilities, to demonstrate that they considered whether the same energy could have been obtained for a lower price from non-utility companies.

The Commission’s final order on Wednesday, however, found that this law should not apply to Dominion’s new application because the Commonwealth of Virginia is the sole purchaser of the energy. The Commission noted that the Commonwealth is a “non-jurisdictional retail electric customer” and thus “the rates and charges it pays generally fall outside of the Commission’s regulatory authority.” The Commission also explained that Dominion will “recover its costs exclusively through contracts negotiated with the Commonwealth” and not “through any Virginia jurisdictional retail electric rates established by the Commission.”

The Commission admitted that it had “not reviewed or evaluated the terms of the Commonwealth’s contract with Dominion, including the financial terms of [the] arrangement.” Therefore, it is unclear at what price the Commonwealth agreed to purchase the Remington energy, or whether solar energy could have been obtained from another seller at a lower cost to taxpayers.

Dominion has announced plans to build at least 400 MW of solar energy in Virginia by 2020. And, as we have discussed previously, several bills currently under consideration by the General Assembly could further accelerate the development of solar energy in Virginia. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality reports that there are seven other solar facilities at least 20 MW in size that have been permitted by the state and in various stages of construction.

Please contact one of our energy lawyers or regulatory attorneys should you have questions about this solar project or other renewable energy initiatives in Virginia.

Solar Expansion Gets a Boost in Virginia

Earlier this week, we were excited to see the news that Sigora Solar and Virginia Community Capital (VCC)  have partnered to provide a low interest financing option for Virginia companies wanting to install and use solar electricity generation assets in their businesses. This announcement comes as no surprise to us, as both of these Virginia organizations have been at the forefront of solar development for some time.

We applaud the leadership that organizations like Sigora Solar and VCC exhibit as the solar industry continues to expand throughout the Commonwealth.  If you would like more information on solar financing or solar asset development, please contact any of our energy and utility lawyers in Richmond.

CLIENT ALERT: APCo Seeks Solar Power Bids

Appalachian Power (“APCo”), a subsidiary of American Electric Power, issued a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) on January 19, 2017, seeking up to 25 megawatts alternating current (“MW AC”) of ground-mounted utility scale solar.  Pursuant to the terms of the RFP, the project must (i) be located in APCO’s service territory in Virginia or West Virginia, (ii) be interconnected to the PJM Regional Transmission Operator or to APCo’s distribution system and (iii) have a nameplate rating of at least 5 MW AC. In addition, the solar project must have started construction after January 1, 2016 and be operational by December 31, 2019.

You can access the RFP here:  https://www.appalachianpower.com/info/news/viewRelease.aspx?releaseID=2143.

If you have questions about renewable power development or retail electric utility regulations, contact one of our Virginia energy lawyers.

On Time Delivery for Dominion Isle of Wight Solar Project

We saw the recent news that Dominion Virginia Power’s Isle of Wight solar array project delivered on time. The Woodland Solar development (19 MW) becomes one of the largest of its kind in the state. In December, Dominion brought three projects on line, including Woodland.

Dominon Virginia Power Isle of Wight solar array

Dominion Virginia Power Isle of Wight solar array

While Virginia continues to lag behind other states in solar energy development, we’ve noted that this year the General Assembly may be poised to try and change that by putting into law some better incentives for producers and developers.  We applaud Dominion for its commitment to integrating renewable sources into its power grid, and we are hopeful that other energy companies will also bring their investment to the state. It will take a diverse group of providers to effectively increase our use of solar power in the Commonwealth.

If you have questions about renewable energy and solar power development or need more information on the Dominion projects, please contact one of our Virginia energy lawyers.

Virginia’s Lawmakers Could Accelerate Renewable Energy Source Development

As the 2017 Regular Session of the Virginia General Assembly heats up, we are keeping a close eye on legislation that could support the development of additional solar energy in the wind turbines and solar arraysCommonwealth. As  noted in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, there is significant regulatory uncertainty in Virginia regarding the rights of utility customers to purchase solar energy. The Times-Dispatch reported that this legal and regulatory uncertainty “may be stifling the development of a lot of solar projects in Virginia.”

In particular, our attorneys will be reviewing the proposed legislation that emerges from the so-called “Rubin Group,” a group of energy stakeholders, including utilities and pro-solar advocates, that is moderated by Richmond lawyer and mediator Mark Rubin. The stakeholder group has been working for months to propose legislation that would encourage solar development, including investments by non-utility companies, while at the same time balancing the concerns of the utilities who must bear the costs to maintain the electric distribution system. Solar advocates generally want customers to have the freedom to purchase 100% solar energy – even if it is not offered by their incumbent electric utility. The utilities, meanwhile, are concerned that if more customers purchase solar generation from third-party solar suppliers, it could mean less revenue for maintenance of the electric grid.

Please contact one of our energy lawyers or regulatory attorneys should you have questions about the status of any energy legislation being considered by the General Assembly this year. Call it our sunny optimism, but we think solar energy has a bright future in Virginia!