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Here comes the sun … though Virginia remains solar straggler

Former Governor Terry McAuliffe exclaimed, more than once, that Virginia was a true leader in solar power, with growth rates that should amaze one...

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

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.