Dominion removes incentive for residential customers to go solar


    Cross-posted from Article XI

    It seems as if the VA State Corporation Commission was established to provide big businesses like Dominion VA Power virtually every demand they think up. On Wednesday, the commission did just that as it gave permission to Dominion to add a charge for large-scale residential solar customers.

    The “stand-by” charge will be applied to customers of Dominion Virginia Power with solar systems of 10 kilowatts hours or greater.

    Dominion didn’t completely get its way, fortunately. The State Corporation Commission was gracious enough to spare Dominion’s solar customers from a generation charge that would have been compounded with a transmission and distribution charge as well.

    Dominion has estimated that the standby charge would “only” apply to a “handful” of customers.

    The number of customers that the standby charge applies to misses the point entirely, however. What Dominion has done is taken away incentives for residential customers to “go solar” so that Dominion can retain its hefty monopoly over energy supplies, among other unpraiseworthy reasons.

    It’s time for Virginians and lovers of the environment and human health to stop playing nice with Dominion. Dominion has used the trust of its customers to string them along with false promises and dirty energy solutions.

    The writing on the wall is clear: Dominion will only move rapidly towards renewable sources of energy if Virginians take action to voice their demands for renewable energy. Only then will profits take second seat to the potential of a fervent customer backlash across the state.

    • Bumble Bee

      Having worked in state government for thirty years and twenty five of them on Capital Square I was always of the opinion that the mission statement of the State Corporation Commission was “SCC protecting corporations from consumers”. I think it fits rather well.  

    • waldo

      There’s no such thing as “solar systems of 10 kilowatt hours or greater.” A kilowatt hour (or kWh) is a unit of measurement of power in aggregate. You’re looking for just a “kilowatt,” which is the capacity that a system can deliver at any time. When your house is idle, it should be using something like 300 watts (1/3 of a kilowatt) of power. When you’ve got the clothes dryer going and the heat pump at full steam, you might get up to 4 kilowatts of throughout electricity. My house has never gone over 3.5 kilowatts at a time. (I have a home energy monitoring system, with which I track such things.)

      A 10 kW solar system is quite a large one. I don’t doubt that Dominion is right, that very few people are going to be effected. (Remember that we’re talking about grid-tied systems here, inherently, otherwise Dominion wouldn’t be involved. So this power is to supplement power coming in from the grid.) I’ve been looking seriously at solar panels for my home, and a 3 kW system is surely going to be enough to provide juice for me. A 5 kW system would provide a lot of power to spare. A 10 kW system? That’s just absurd. That’s something like 50 solar panels, something like 800-900 square feet totally covered in solar panels. That’s larger than my entire roof, on both sides, including the side that gets no sun. 🙂

      I think Dominion’s approach to renewables, and grid-tied systems, is terrible, backwards, and discouraging to innovation and energy farming. But this? This is not a problem.