By Brian Sewell
A plan by Appalachian Power Company that would impose new costs on non-residential customers who want to go solar is getting negative reviews from clean energy advocates in Virginia.
The utility argues that its proposed Renewable Generation Purchase Program would enable its Virginia customers to purchase solar panels and power from a third party in what is known as a “power-purchase agreement.” Appalachian Power would act as a middleman, connecting that solar capacity to the grid and charging a $30 monthly fee to cover grid maintenance and administrative costs.
Advocates say that extra charge is arbitrary and unnecessary in Virginia, a state with a negligible amount of installed solar capacity. They also worry it could deter customers that want to economically adopt cleaner energy sources.
“It would flip the situation from allowing the customer to immediately pay less to immediately paying more, so it creates a real disincentive,” Appalachian Voices’ Virginia campaign coordinator, Hannah Wiegard, told WVTF Public Radio. “ … if Virginia is to catch up with other states, we need a freer, more open market.”
The company is currently seeking approval of the program from the Virginia State Corporation Commission.