Home Energy and Environment Letter to Governor McAuliffe: Pro-Consumer, Pro-Solar Amendments to SB1349

Letter to Governor McAuliffe: Pro-Consumer, Pro-Solar Amendments to SB1349

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( – promoted by lowkell)

February 17, 2015

Governor Terrence McAuliffe

Richmond, Virginia

In my previous letter urging your veto of Senate Bill SB 1349, it is important to describe a framework of what a replacement would look like, or what amendments might be feasible to foster wider roll-out of solar in the Commonwealth.

Solar energy jobs in southern Virginia should be the focus of the next three years of your term. It takes 9 acres to generate 1 megawatt of AC solar power, and given the proper incentives setting aside solar array acreage might be a good crop for farmers in this tight economy.

In Germany 46% of their 63,000 MW of installed renewable energy is locally owned by individuals and farmers. Japan has more electric vehicle charging stations than gas stations. PG&E is asking California to install a network of 25,000 EV charging stations.

Finding funding for all of this is the trick and I’d like to suggest a few mechanisms that might allow citizens and communities in the Commonwealth to share ownership of our nascent renewable energy infrastructure.

Dominion already has pieces of this in place. The Dominion Green Power program allows subscribers to add a 1.3 cent per kilowatt hour charge to their bill to source clean power. Dominion charges a 100% premium for overhead and administration of this program and consumers wind up with clean power but no ownership of the infrastructure.

To take this a step further I recommend that Dominion offer a ‘Green Share’ program similar to their GPP that allows groups of individuals to crowdsource financing for selected clean energy projects that are designed by Dominion but owned by the community.

Members of a church or parents in a school system would be allowed to aggregate their Green Shares to install solar on a church or a school, and the power would be fed back to Dominion under a Provider Purchase Agreement. After 7 to 10 years enough Green Shares would be aggregated to pay back the installation costs and Dominion would then cut the school or church a check for the provided power every month.

Following the PG&E EV charging infrastructure example, Dominion could open Level 3 EV charging stations near major highway interchanges across the Commonwealth. Electric vehicles are steadily gaining adoption and within the next year or so GM and Tesla will both be selling EV’s in the $30,000 range. At home electric vehicles are charged using AC, with Level 1 being a wall outlet and Level 2 charging from a 220v dryer outlet. On the road, most new EV’s include Level 3 DC Quick Chargers and can charge the vehicle in 20 to 30 minutes.

Just like the ChargePoint network, Dominion could offer a charge card and offer EV owners two types of power. Dominion Regular and Dominion Green. Dominion Regular would be its normal rate mix of power, sold at a price premium. Dominion Green would be generated from Virginia based solar and wind renewable power. A larger customer premium would be charged for Dominion Green, and just like a grocery store the charged premium would accrue until the customer can be given a Green Share. Those Dominion Green Shares would be collected regionally to finance local solar parks to feed Dominion charging stations. Any profits for selling Dominion Regular would go to interconnection costs to hook up the financed local solar parks. EV owners would also need to be assessed their share of the gas tax for wear and tear on the Virginia’s roads.

My view still remains that SB1349 should be vetoed. Dominion and Appalachian Power should offer their necessary rebates and that the Virginia legislature and the SCC need to maintain their oversight responsibilities to the Commonwealth ratepayers. Virginia’s clean energy future should not be shoved in the drawer for five years and left to the sole discretion of monopoly power providers. Virginia deserves a full-throated debate over its clean energy future, with Dominion and Appalachian as partners rather than proctors of this debate.

The only way SB1349 should survive is if Virginia consumers get shared ownership of its clean energy future.

Sincerely yours,

Morris Meyer