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Tag Archive: distributed solar power generation

SCC Sets Procedural Schedule for Dominion Grid Application

On July 24, 2018, Dominion Energy Virginia (“Dominion”) filed a Grid Transformation Plan with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (“Commission” or “SCC”). The SCC has entered a procedural schedule for this case and set an evidentiary hearing for November 15, 2018.

Dominion’s grid plan proposes to invest approximately $816 million in projects designed “to enhance the reliability, resiliency and security of the electric distribution grid.” Dominion also states that the plan will “facilitate the integration of distributed energy resources, such as solar or battery storage, into the system.” Dominion proposes to make the $816 million in investments over a three-year period, between 2019 and 2021. In particular, the utility wants to install approximately 1.4 million smart meters throughout its service territory between 2019 and 2021. There is more about the request here.

The filing also outlines the utility’s longer-term grid transformation priorities. Over 10 years, Dominion proposes to invest over $3.1 billion in grid transformation investments. These investments would include additional smart meters and other “advanced metering infrastructure” as well as reliability improvements and “grid hardening” projects. Dominion’s plan includes proposals to replace certain aging distribution facilities and increase the company’s physical and cyber security capabilities.

The application is filed pursuant to recently enacted legislation, Senate Bill 966, passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Northam earlier this year. Dominion’s petition requests the SCC to find that the plan is “reasonable and prudent.” The legislation provides that “grid transformation projects” are “in the public interest.” However, the law does not require the Commission to approve any of the proposed investments.

Dominion does not request cost recovery in its filing or explain whether the spending plan would result in rate increases for customers. This case has been docketed as Case Number PUR-2018-00100. Interested parties have until September 11, 2018, to intervene in this case.

If you want to know more about how this filing may affect energy markets in Virginia or have a legal issue in the energy field, please contact any of our renewable energy lawyers.

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:

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.

Charlottesville Projects Add to Solar Energy Growth

Charlottesville Tomorrow has a nice piece on Riverbend Development’s plans to install a sizable solar panel array on one of its properties in the town. This follows on an installation earlier this year by the company on Starr Hill Brewery, nearby in Crozet, Virginia.

As we noted here, when we attended a ceremony in Charlottesville for the opening of a solar energy project within the Albemarle Public Schools, this area of the state is seeing a big interest in solar. Governor McAuliffe was on hand then and sent a very positive message to the whole Commonwealth that solar projects and the jobs they bring are good for Virginia.

If you want to know more about Power Purchase Agreements like those used in Albemarle County or about other opportunities for renewable and solar energy projects in Virginia, contact any of our Virginia energy lawyers.

FERC OK’s Apple’s Plan to Sell Renewable Power

solar panels

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) recently authorized Apple to sell electricity in wholesale markets by approving the company’s request for “market-based rate authority.” FERC’s approval means that Apple will be able to sell excess power generated at its renewable facilities, including large solar installations in Arizona, Nevada, and California. Apple also recently entered into a long-term power purchase agreement with First Solar, Inc., to purchase the output from a 130 MW solar facility near San Francisco for approximately $850 million over 25 years. FERC’s order authorizes Apple to sell its excess electricity in several wholesale markets across the country, but not directly to retail customers. FERC reviewed Apple’s request and found that the technology giant’s entry into wholesale energy markets would not result undue market power, affect pricing, or suppress competition.

Apple’s plan to become a seller – instead of simply a user and owner – of renewable energy is consistent with the company’s stated goal of installing 4 gigawatts of renewable energy around the world by 2020. The company’s website also claims that 93% Apple’s data centers and manufacturing operations are currently powered by renewable energy resources.

Apple’s entry into the wholesale energy market is part of a trend among large tech companies to operate as sellers and developers – and not merely end users – of renewable energy. Companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon have invested billions of dollars in recent years to develop renewable energy facilities in the U.S. and abroad. Google, for example, is currently purchasing the output from over 2 gigawatts of renewable energy and received market-based rate authority from FERC in 2010. As large U.S. corporations acquire energy facilities and increase their long-term renewable purchases, it seems likely that many companies, like Apple and Google, will seek to sell excess generation in wholesale markets.

If you would like to know more about renewable power regulation or discuss issues related to energy law, please contact one of the energy lawyers at GreeneHurlocker.

Maryland Proposes Community Solar Pilot Program Regulations

sunset-solar-squareThe proposed regulations for Maryland’s Community Solar Pilot Program were published in the Maryland Register on April 29, 2016.  Here is a link to the Community Solar Pilot Program rules as published. Under the proposed rules, customers that subscribe to a community solar energy generating system will receive full retail rate credit for their subscription up to break-even (i.e. the point where their subscribed generation matches their usage). However, credit for subscribed generation exceeding a customer’s actual usage will be limited to the supply price (transmission and distribution excluded).

The proposed program structure includes: (1) an overall cap of 1.5 percent of 2015 Maryland peak demand; (2) annual capacity caps for each of the three years of the program; (3) a per-utility cap of 1.5 percent of 2015 Maryland peak demand; (4) capacity allocations to “small,” “open,” and “Low and Moderate Income (LMI)” categories; and (5) a limit of 350 accounts per community solar energy generating system.

Comments on the proposed rules are due to the Maryland Public Service Commission by May 30, 2016. For more information about Maryland Community Solar Pilot Program, please contact one of GreeneHurlocker’s energy attorneys.

MA Legislators Pass Compromise on Net-Metering, Reimbursement Rates

The Massachusetts State-house in Boston, Massa...

The Massachusetts State-house in Boston, Massachusetts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week, the Massachusetts legislature reached an end to the solar impasse that existed in the Commonwealth, when the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate struck a deal regarding the net metering cap and reimbursement rates.  Specifically, the legislation will:

  • Lift the cap on solar net metering by three percent (3%) for both public and private solar projects; and
  • Decrease the reimbursement rate paid by utilities to most solar energy producers by 40%.  (This decrease in rates, however, does not apply to government and municipality owned projects, residential and small commercial projects – which will all still receive the full retail rate.)

The legislation also authorizes distribution companies to submit to the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (“DOER”) proposals for a “monthly minimum reliability contribution” to be included on electric bills for solar-producing customers.  DOER then has the authority to approve a monthly minimum reliability contribution that meets certain enumerated factors.  The bill explains that any such contributions “shall ensure that all distribution company customers contribute to the fixed costs of ensuring the reliability, proper maintenance and safety of the electric distribution system.”  DOER is prohibited, however, from approving a proposal for a monthly minimum reliability contribution, until after the aggregate nameplate capacity of installed solar generating facilities in Massachusetts is equal to or greater than 1,600 MW.  DOER was given the authority by the legislature to exempt or modify any such contributions for low-income ratepayers.

While the legislation serves as a temporary solution to the net metering problem in Massachusetts, stakeholders, however, predict the cap will likely be reached by the end of 2016.

The attorneys at GreeneHurlocker will continue to monitor the legislative landscape in Massachusetts as many of our clients are currently pursuing solar projects in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.If you have any questions about this legislation or other isses related to renewable energy and regulation, contact any of our solar energy lawyers.

MDV-SEIA Sponsors Clean Energy Lobby Day Again

MDV-SEIA elogoOn February 9, 2016, the Maryland, DC, Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association (MDV-SEIA) and the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council will host Clean Energy Lobby Day (CELD) 2016. The event brings together the advanced energy businesses of Virginia with key legislators to advocate for clean technology bills and solar energy-friendly legislation. More than 100 business representatives from Virginia’s solar, wind and energy efficiency industries generally attend.

“GreeneHurlocker will be there and we hope you will join us in this incredible opportunity to make our voices heard,” said Eric Hurlocker, co-managing member of the firm and a Board member of MDV-SEIA. If you want to know more about MDV-SEIA or Clean Energy Day, contact Hurlocker or any of our Virginia energy lawyers.

Coffee Was Great; Solar Focus Even Better

solar focus textWe’ve just returned from Solar Focus 2015, the mid-Atlantic’s premier education and networking meeting for participants in the solar and renewable energy industry. As in past years, it was held in Washington, DC, and attracted a sell-out crowd. In an effort to keep everyone’s energy high, our firm sponsored the coffee breaks and afternoon snacks.

In addition to all the great friendships we renewed and strengthened, along with the impassioned industry leaders we met for the first time, we attended some fantastic and thought provoking sessions on current and developing opportunities. We had the good fortune to moderate a panel on breaking into untapped markets — a topic that we will continue to follow and discuss here in the weeks to come.

Meanwhile, we snapped a few photos, so if you were not able to be there, here’s a little of what you missed. If you want to know more about the conference, the Maryland-Washington, DC-Virginia Solar Energy Industry Association (who put on the conference) or the legal and regulatory environment the solar industry lives in, just call any of our energy and utility lawyers.

Solar-Focus-2015-1 Solar-Focus-2015-3
Solar-Focus-2015-2 Solar-Focus-2015-4

Dominion Seeks Trio of Solar Farms

On Thursday, October 1, 2015, Dominion Virginia Power (“Dominion”), Virginia’s largest utility, announced its proposal to build three large-scale solar facilities with a combined capacity of 56 MW in three Virginia counties:  (i) 17 MW to be built on 165 acres in Powhatan County, (ii) 20 MW to be built on 250 acres in Louise County and (iii) 19 MW to be built on 200 acres in Isle of Wight County.  The trio of projects were the result of a competitive Request for Proposals (“RFP”) issued by Dominion in July.  

Dominion plans to purchase each of the facilities from the developers.  None of the announced projects will be owned by third party developers, but Dominion stated it is also pursuing power purchase agreements with other solar developers as a result of such RFP.

Dominion filed certificates of public convenience and necessity for the projects with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (“SCC”), seeking the SCC’s approval which would allow construction on the projects to begin next spring.  Dominion explained that the three solar projects are part of Dominion’s previously announced plan to develop 400 MW of large-scale solar projects in the state of Virginia by 2020.  The projects are estimated to cost approximately $129.5 million, excluding financing costs.  To recover such costs, Dominion has requested adding 7 cents to the average residential bill, known as a “rate adjustment clause” or “rider,” which would take effect December 1, 2016.

Dominion’s press release can be viewed here: