By Bobby Monnacella @ Ipsun Solar
Please help us support two important solar bills currently moving through the Virginia legislature. The Solar Freedom bill and the Clean Economy Act are both important for the future of solar in Virginia, and we need to make sure our legislators know that we support the expansion of solar in our state. Scroll down to learn more and take action!
If these bills are not passed, and the limits on Virginia solar are not raised, that would mean many solar projects on homes and businesses in the state would no longer be allowed. There is no way Governor Northam’s Executive Order calling for 100% clean energy by 2050 could be achieved without further solar expansion in the Commonwealth. In fact, our state dropped 3 places in national solar ranking from 2018 to 2019; can you imagine where we’ll be if we allow the legislature to bring solar expansion to a grinding halt? Let’s call on our legislators to make our state a leader in solar, not a straggler!
Here are some important facts about the benefits of the Virginia Clean Economy Act:
- Direct job and economic impact: Expanding Virginia’s distributed solar capacity to 2,500 MW would grow the Commonwealth’s solar industry to nearly 29,500 professionals and could generate over $4.3 billion in direct economic impacts.
- Total jobs and economic impact: This expanded investment in distributed solar would lead to an estimated 17,000 more indirect and induced jobs, resulting in over $7 billion in total economic impact.
- Tax revenue generated: This new economic activity would generate over $1 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue.
Here are the “Easy 8” reforms that the Solar Freedom bill addresses:
- Raising from 1% to 10% the cap on the total amount of solar that can be net metered in a utility territory
- Making third-party financing using power purchase agreements (PPAs) legal for all customers of IOUs, removing current cap
- Allowing local government entities to install solar facilities of up to 5 MW on governmentowned property and use the electricity for schools or other government-owned buildings located on nearby property, even if not contiguous
- Allowing all customers to attribute output from a single solar array to multiple meters on the same or adjacent property of the same customer
- Allowing the owner of a multi-family residential building to install a solar facility on the building or surrounding property and sell the electricity to tenants
- Removing the restriction on customers installing a net-metered solar facility larger than required to meet their previous 12 months’ demand
- Raising the size cap for net metered non-residential solar facilities from 1 MW to 3 MW
- Removing standby charges on residential facilities sized between 10-20 kW
Enacting these reforms will give local governments more opportunities to install solar on government property as well as help residents and businesses invest in solar. This can create savings for taxpayers, decrease the need for fossil fuels, help meet local sustainability goals, ensure access to solar by low-income apartment tenants, and support local jobs and economic development. The net metering provisions of Solar Freedom do not apply to rural electric cooperatives, which operate under another section of the law. The Solar Freedom bill also includes amendments to the Commonwealth Energy Policy to support distributed generation.
Here is a sample email you can send to the list of legislators we’ve included below – or just give them a call. Please feel free to personalize and make it your own.
Dear Delegate ____ OR Senator ____,
Please vote for the Solar Freedom Bill and the Virginia Clean Economy Act. (You can name the bill numbers but you don’t have to- for Solar Freedom, it’s either House Bill 572 OR Senate Bill 710 – for the Virginia Clean Economy Act, House Bill 1562 OR Senate Bill 876). As a homeowner who has gone solar, I feel strongly that other homeowners and businesses in Virginia should be able to do the same, and that any barriers to the process should be removed. Solar saves us money and helps us take part in the fight against climate change. It’s important to me that Virginia be a leader in renewable energy, and that we meet the Governor’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2050.
The Solar Freedom bill removes 8 legal barriers to customer rooftop solar. Currently, Virginia law restricts net metering to 1%. That 1% cap will be reached in 2020; and once reached, homeowners and businesses will not be able to go solar unless they buy battery storage as well. This would make adding solar energy cost prohibitive and less productive for most people.
Additionally, the cap on the solar PPA (power purchase agreement) pilot has been met, so no new projects like the historic Fairfax County PPA initiative will be allowed. In fact, the Fairfax project has been put on hold until the laws are changed because the cap was met before they got started! This is unacceptable. The General Assembly should be ridding the Virginia Code of laws that prevent the customers from choosing solar energy. Given the climate crisis, the General Assembly should be picking low hanging fruit, such as Solar Freedom, to move Virginia into the clean energy economy.
Thanks so much for speaking up for solar! These legislators will hear the bill in subcommittee next week and need to hear from real solar customers and enthusiasts about why solar is important in our state. Please email or call early and often!
Delegate Stephen Heretick (D79), (804) 698-1079, DelSHeretick@house.virginia.gov
Delegate Hala Ayala (D51), (804) 698-1051, DelHAyala@house.virginia.gov
Delegate Terry Kilgore (R1), (804) 698-1001, DelTKilgore@house.virginia.gov
Delegate Lee Ware (R65), (804) 698-1065, DelLWare@house.virginia.gov
Delegate Danny Marshall (R14), (804) 698-1014, DelDMarshall@house.virginia.gov
Delegate Israel O’Quinn (R5), (804) 698-1005, DelIOquinn@house.virginia.gov
Delegate Jeion Ward, Chair (D92), (804) 698-1092, DelJWard@house.virginia.gov
Senator Dick Saslaw, Chair D35, (804) 698-7535, firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Tommy Norment R3, (804) 698-7503, email@example.com
Senator Louise Lucas D18, (804) 698-7518, firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Lionell Spruill Sr. D5, (804) 698-7505, email@example.com
Senator George Barker D3, (804) 698-7539, firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Dave Marsden D37, (804) 698-7537, email@example.com
Please share this widely- the more people who reach out to these legislators the better! Read more about Ipsun’s efforts to help remove barriers to solar on our policy page.