GreeneHurlocker again sponsors the coffee breaks at the annual Solar Focus, being held in Washington, DC on November 7-8. Watch Eric Hurlocker’s invite for you to join us.
An article in yesterday’s News & Advance profiled a Lynchburg business that has invested over half a million dollars to produce solar energy at its headquarters. BMS Direct, a company that processes invoices and billing statements, now has over 900 solar panels on the roof of its 80,000-square-foot facility in Lynchburg. The solar panels now supply about half of the company’s electric needs, and the resulting energy savings are expected to pay for the cost of the system in six years.
Several factors, including declining solar panel prices and federal investment tax credits, make it a great time to invest in solar energy. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (“SEIA”), solar has experienced an average annual growth rate of 68%, while installed solar prices have dropped 55% over the last five years. The installed cost of a solar installation is now between $2.30 per watt and $2.75 per watt for residential systems and $1.40 per watt and $2.20 per watt for commercial systems. Federal law currently authorizes a 30% tax credit for residential and commercial solar systems, although this percentage is scheduled to decline beginning in 2020.
Virginia law allows all customers to generate their own renewable energy on site by “net metering.” Electric utilities in Virginia are required to offer net metering programs, which allow residential customers and businesses like BMS Direct to install renewable energy facilities on their property. Net metering customers only have to pay their utility for their electricity usage that is in excess of what they generate on site. Appalachian Power (“APCo”) says that about 750 of its customers participate in the net metering program.
Moreover, Virginia customers are also currently permitted to purchase 100% renewable energy, including solar, from non-utility companies. Under Virginia law, most customers are allowed to purchase renewable generation from third-party suppliers only if their incumbent electric utility does not have an approved tariff for 100% renewable energy. See Va. Code Section 56-577(A)(5). However, no Virginia utility currently offers a 100% renewable energy option for its customers. As we have written about here, the Virginia State Corporation Commission (“SCC”) recently rejected a renewable energy tariff proposal by APCo that, if approved, would have prevented its customers from purchasing solar energy from third-party suppliers.
The SCC is also currently considering a similar renewable tariff application filed by Dominion Energy Virginia (“Dominion”) in SCC Case No.PUR-2017-00060. If approved, Dominion’s tariff would limit clean energy choices for its large customers, and potentially other classes of customers in the future.
If you want to learn more about the regulations governing solar installations, and whether developing a solar energy project may make sense for you or your business, please contact one of our renewable energy lawyers or regulatory attorneys.
We’re big on advocating the expansion of development and use of renewable energy sources in Virginia and, as members of the Maryland-DC-Virginia Solar Energy Industry Association (MDV-SEIA), we show up on Clean Energy Lobby Day. CELD is an annual advocacy day which allows legislators and constituents to connect regarding energy policy under consideration by the General Assembly. It’s always a great time to talk with legislators and our industry partners.
This year, there will be two CELD opportunities at subcommittee meetings at the Capitol in Richmond: Thursday, January 26th, for the Senate Energy Subcommittee and Tuesday January 31st, for the House Energy Subcommittee. If you want more solar development, this might be a chance to make your opinion heard by the General Assembly. Come join us!
If you want to know more about MDV-SEIA, where GreeneHurlocker co-founder Eric Hurlocker serves on the Board, or about renewable energy development in Virginia, please call Eric or any of our Virginia energy lawyers.
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.
Children who flee the dangerous social conditions and crushing poverty of countries in Central America and Asia face another daunting challenge when they reach American soil, one with which they have no experience and for which they possess no functional skills: the United States immigration process.
Since joining GreeneHurlocker in 2014, associate Eric Wallace has given his pro bono time helping Commonwealth Catholic Charities and assisting undocumented children to navigate the path to legal residency in the United States.
“It takes a good amount of diligence to figure out the best way for these immigration cases to be addressed, diligence that can be difficult for attorney, much more so for a child who often cannot speak or read the language, and who does not understand the quirks and variables of the United States immigration system,” says Wallace.
Wallace says undocumented juveniles who are picked up by U.S. Customs and Border Protection can be connected with non-governmental agencies such as Commonwealth Catholic Charities, which then attempt to find foster families to care for the children while their cases makes their way through the courts. Many times the foster families live across the country from site where the child was taken into custody, which is why some children arrive in Virginia for placement.
The path for many of the children is lengthy. In the cases of juveniles from volatile and unsafe backgrounds making their way to the United States, special immigrant juvenile status often affords them a path to residency. Typically, Wallace works with a social worker at Commonwealth Catholic Charities on behalf of a child, facilitating trips to the courts, working with the parents of the child, and often helping to translate for children that are only beginning to learn English.
“Over the years, we have been able to help a number of children remain in the United States and avoid the types of circumstances that originally drove them from their homes abroad,” said Wallace. These children come to the United States with no resources and no alternatives, so Wallace finds it very rewarding to be able to work with the skilled social work professionals of agencies such as Commonwealth Catholic Charities to provide these children some hope for a better future as they work their way along the complex legal path to residency.
“We applaud and whole-heartedly support the pro bono efforts of our lawyers, like Eric, who dedicate significant time, often without much fanfare, to enhance the lives of these children,” said Eric Hurlocker, co-managing member of GreeneHurlocker.
We are pleased to have reached our firm’s 4-year anniversary this month! We don’t normally make a big to-do about our anniversary – other than a few beers – but we’re especially proud of our growth in lawyers, staff, and number of clients.
The firm has come a long way since Brian Greene and Eric Hurlocker joined forces. We now have seven lawyers and a para-legal, and our work extends throughout Virginia and into Maryland, D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and beyond. Here are some things we want to share:
- We have wonderful clients who do really cool things. Our solar clients have installed solar facilities at the University of Richmond, Washington & Lee University, the Albemarle County School System, and throughout the country. We have a solar panel hanging in our lobby, courtesy of one of our clients. Our retail electric and natural gas clients continue to develop new products using innovative technology that impacts energy consumption, and lives, every day. We have represented other energy companies and municipalities that provide services that are fundamentally important to customers. We are truly honored to have such an incredible and growing client base.
- We have awesome lawyers. They are smart and nice and work hard, and they pass the “would I have a beer with that dude?” test. They are on the cutting edge of exciting legal and factual issues involving solar development, retail electricity and natural gas, demand response, water service, and more. We have experienced numerous successes on behalf of our clients the past four years, mainly due to the winning combination of our clients and team we have built here.
- We are proud of the personal relationships we have developed throughout the mid-Atlantic. Just last week our lawyers travelled to Baltimore, MD; Dover, DE; Washington, DC; and Raleigh, NC. We have enjoyed sponsoring the MACRUC conference the past three years and the “Taste of Virginia” cocktail party that generates so much buzz. We have always viewed our energy practice as a “relationship practice” and will continue to build upon what we have accomplished to date.
- It’s only been four years. We think back to the formation of GreeneHurlocker, when we hoped that the combination of Brian’s regulatory practice and Eric’s transactional practice would feed off each other. So far, so good.
So, it’s time to recognize amazing progress! We’ve grown in terms of clients and lawyers, and moved into bigger office space. We’ve noticed that clients that might not have considered hiring us in the past are now hiring us, in part because of our increased bandwith and expertise to handle their cases and deals. What we’re doing as a firm is working, and it’s unbelievably satisfying.
So, a heart-felt “Thank You” to all of you that have supported us during the past four years. Here’s to many, many more!
We were grateful for the large crowd of clients, colleagues and friends who came to enjoy our Great Tastes of Virginia reception at the Williamsburg Lodge during the MACRUC Annual Education Conference. The weather cooperated this year and we saw a lot of smiles around the patio as you enjoyed food and beverages native to or close to the hearts of Virginia. Click here to see our photos.
For the past decade, part of the madness of March includes the Deep Run Marathon Dance. GreeneHurlocker is pleased to once again be a supporter of this great event, which will be held March 18 and 19, 2016, at Deep Run High School. The Marathon Dance benefits the charities of our local community, and since it began, Deep Run High School students, of all grades, have raised more than $1.5 million for local charities. The event has become the second largest high school dance marathon in the country and last year raised over $216,753.00! The Marathon Dance is run and put together by the help of the student committee. They organize and promote fundraisers and the event itself. They also help choose the beneficiaries. Read what was in the Richmond Times Dispatch about the event.
Stay tuned for pictures and updates from this year’s Marathon Dance.
On 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.