Local government officials and Appalachian Power Co. announced on June 9 that schools and localities in the utility’s territory will be permitted to use net metering and solar financing programs consistent with the state law under new contracts to be signed this month.
This is a significant victory for the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia and the schools and localities that have been working for fair access to solar energy for several years. The most recent contract between APCO and the local entities, in place since 2017, has effectively blocked all solar energy projects on schools and local government buildings throughout much of Southwest Virginia.
“We applaud the efforts of the localities in Southwest Virginia to expand access to solar energy, supporting a local solar energy economy and helping to lower electricity bills for our local governments at a time when funds are severely limited,” said Chelsea Barnes, legislative director with Appalachian Voices.
The new contracts were negotiated by the Virginia Municipal League and Virginia Association of Counties on behalf of the local government authorities in Appalachian Power territory. This announcement will allow several stalled projects in the coalfield region to move forward, including in Wise and Dickenson counties, as well as other projects in greater Southwest Virginia. Appalachian Power will now allow the local governments to participate in the net-metering program and the Power Purchase Agreement financing program consistent with state laws that apply to other types of customers.
“We are excited with the announcement that Appalachian Power and Virginia Municipal League and Virginia Association of Counties have agreed to remove the unfair cap on net metering for non-jurisdictional customers and will now allow PPAs for Southwest Virginia schools, cities and counties,” said Dan Hunnicutt, solar project developer with Rockbridge Energy and NCI Solar Group. “Appalachian Voices led this fight for three years for energy freedom for the Dickenson County School Board, which is one of our customers. Other team members include Solar United Neighbors, Generation 180, Southern Environmental Law Center, Sierra Club and Secure Futures. NCI Solar and RockBridge Energy congratulate the local governments and we are so excited to be part of the new solar future for Ridgeview Middle and High schools.”
Governor Ralph Northam in March signed legislation by Senator John Edwards (D-21) and Delegate Chris Hurst (D-12) that clarified that local governments are eligible for the solar PPA pilot program expanded by last year’s Virginia Clean Economy Act.
News item from Appalachian Voices