Posts Tagged ‘Renewable Energy’

Clean Line Wind Project Clears Hurdle

Monday, February 16th, 2015 - posted by molly

Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners LLC received initial approval from Tennessee regulators to construct a 700-mile transmission line that would deliver wind power generated in the plains of western Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle to customers in the Tennessee Valley.

The Tennessee Valley Authority, which provides power to approximately 9 million people in seven southeastern states, signed a letter of support for the project last November, and would become the largest buyer of the projected 3,500 megawatts of clean power.

Clean Line hopes the project will begin operation in 2018, but the energy developer still must obtain final federal and state approval.

West Virginia Repeals “Alternative” Energy Law

Monday, February 16th, 2015 - posted by molly

By Brian Sewell

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed a bill to repeal the state’s Alternative and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, a law ostensibly aimed at promoting adoption of renewable sources.

In the opening days of the 2015 legislative session, West Virginia legislators moved quickly to dismantle the standard, arguing that they were standing up for the state’s weakened coal industry by putting clean energy on the chopping block. But the law has had a negligible effect since it was passed in 2009. A broad interpretation of what constitutes “alternative” energy under the law has allowed West Virginia’s largest utilities to easily meet the law’s requirements by relying on coal and natural gas without adding new solar or wind capacity.

Even though the West Virginia Coal Association helped craft the standard, it now supports repeal, citing regulatory and legal pressure on the coal industry.

Clean energy advocates reacted with indifference, since the doomed law did little to expand renewable generation, but they say there is a silver lining: lawmakers approved an amendment to the bill that allows West Virginians who have solar panels to continue receiving credit for the excess electricity they generate and put back into the grid.

Editor’s note: The online text of this article is longer than the print version.

Update from the Virginia General Assembly

Monday, February 2nd, 2015 - posted by hannah

Attacks on the EPA escalate, and rate freezes don’t consider customers.

A slew of bad bills to stymie the EPA and safeguard corporate polluters have been brought up in the first weeks of Virginia's brief legislative session.

A slew of bad bills to stymie the EPA and safeguard corporate polluters have been brought up in the first weeks of Virginia’s brief legislative session.

Virginia’s legislative session may be brief, but many bills with major implications for our future energy mix have already been acted on. Two weeks into this year’s session, here is a look at where our top issues stand.

Rate freeze controversy heats up

It’s been in the news around the state: Dominion Power has enlisted the help of utility-friendly legislators, in particular Senator Frank Wagner of Virginia Beach, in an effort to pause regulators’ scrutiny of the utility’s revenue for eight years.

The legislative patron says his bill is necessary to keep customers from seeing rising energy costs due to the mythical high price of compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon pollution standard. Attorney General Mark Herring, who is tasked with looking out for ratepayers, notes that the measure would actually prevent rebates of overcharges to customers.

Anyone familiar with the system in which Virginia’s investor-owned electric providers operate will be struck by the way this would remove State Corporation Commission oversight and, with it, Dominion’s accountability to customers. In another troubling wrinkle, if cost-effective clean energy resources such as energy efficiency are deployed over this time resulting in saved energy and Dominion over-earns on its rate of return then customers are deprived of the those savings. Despite opposition from many sides, the bill has passed out of subcommittee.

Attacks on Virginia potential to achieve large-scale carbon-free power

For reasons ranging from pure political grandstanding to reactions to a perceived federal overreach in state affairs, many legislators are taking part in the rush to apply tactics pioneered by the American Legislative Exchange Council and Americans for Prosperity to stymie the implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan in Virginia. One strategy is to interrupt what would be a smooth process of the Department of Environmental Quality preparing and sending Virginia’s implementation plan to the EPA. Legislation of this type gives the General Assembly a middle-man role able to approve the plan, which effectively obstructs the process and robs the executive branch of its control.

Other ways of slowing or stopping the EPA’s efforts to limit carbon pollution and drive investment in clean energy are plentiful: from Senator Wagner’s proposition prohibiting action in response to the standards until 18 criticisms of the standards are rectified, studying whether the plan on the whole benefits Virginia at all before taking action, or giving the General Assembly power to do what the Attorney General has not done: sue the EPA on behalf of Virginia.

Common-sense steps to make solar accessible and affordable for more Virginians

The main piece of legislation we’ve watched that would put an end to indiscriminate carbon pollution and lead to investments in clean energy and climate adaptation is the Virginia Coastal Protection Act. The bill did not manage to get the support it needed this year to make it out of committee.

Still, as we fight the bad bills above, we have a chance to make progress on several clean energy bills that will make a real difference to bring more renewable energy online in Virginia. Several will be heard in the House Energy Subcommittee on Tuesday, Feb. 3, be there to support solutions like community solar, larger net metering, and more!

Decent news for N.C. solar power

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - posted by molly

According to a report by Environment North Carolina, the state ranks fourth nationally for installed photovoltaic solar power in 2013.

According to a report by Environment North Carolina, the state ranks fourth nationally for installed photovoltaic solar power in 2013. Solar Panel image from Bigstock

During the last business hours of 2014, the N.C. Utilities Commission issued a decision with big implications for the state’s strong solar industry.

The ruling wasn’t exactly a fireworks display for clean energy, but it does allow solar developers to start the new year on steady footing. On Dec. 31, the commission renewed a set of rules governing the contracts between electric utilities and independent power producers despite objections from North Carolina’s largest utilities.

The order requires that state utilities provide standard contracts for buying electricity from independent producers such as solar companies, methane-to-energy operations and some hydroelectric facilities. According to the order, all qualifying facilities that generate 5 megawatts of power or less are eligible for standard contracts in five,10 or 15-year periods.

Duke Energy and Dominion Power had requested that the Utilities Commission reduce the cutoff for standard contracts to 100 kilowatts and require any power generators over that limit to negotiate custom contracts with the utilities. Solar energy proponents argued that negotiating custom contracts with Duke and Dominion would cripple solar development in the state. Instead, solar advocates had proposed extending the cap from five to 10 megawatts and extending maximum contract terms from 15 to 20 years.

Jim Warren, director of the pro-clean-energy organization NC WARN, expressed disapproval with the Utilities Commission’s decision not to expand the standard contracts to apply to larger solar installations.

“Prior to July hearings, during the hearings, and since the hearings, solar industry companies have made clear that Duke Energy’s practices are already seriously harming them – and that they need regulators to improve contract conditions in order to force Duke to quit stalling large independent solar projects,” he said in a press statement.

Other renewable proponents were encouraged that the state commission didn’t bow to utility pressure to weaken the rules.

“We’re pleased that the Commission rejected attempts by Duke Energy and others to roll back long-standing policies that allow independent solar power producers to compete in a market that is dominated by monopoly utilities,” Katie Ottenweller of the Southern Environmental Law Center commented in a press statement.

The renewable energy industry also requested that the utilities pay more for the energy they buy from independent solar developers to reflect the social and environmental benefits of solar power. In turn, the utilities asked to pay less to reflect the extra cost of connecting independent solar power sites to the grid. The Utilities Commission rejected both requests and ruled that it was premature to change the payment rates.

Ottenweller also noted that the commission left the door open to considering the social and environmental benefits of solar in the economic calculus in the future. “In [the] order, the Commission recognized the potential for solar energy to bring major benefits to North Carolina customers, and signaled a willingness to make utilities pay fair value to independent solar power producers once those benefits are quantified,” she said.

Crowdfunding Solar in West Virginia

Friday, December 19th, 2014 - posted by allison

In a state known for coal, solar energy emerges through a grassroots effort

By Eliza Laubach
Dan Conant affectionately calls his first successes cutting solar installation costs “barn raisings.” After years of political organizing in college and shortly after, he wanted to use community organizing strategies for solar power.

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“Community-supported solar builds awareness about where electricity comes from,” says Than Hitt, center, holding his daughter Hazel at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Sheperdstown Presbyterian Church’s solar array. Photo by Mary Anne Hitt.

Policies that have helped to nurture the solar industry, such as affordable leasing options, tax credits and requirements for utilities to purchase renewable energy credits aren’t offered in his home state of West Virginia.

“I was trying to move back home, but there weren’t any jobs available at that point,” says Conant. He instead worked in Virginia and Vermont, helping pioneer innovative neighborhood-scale methods for going solar. He found ways to lower prohibitive upfront costs, which he describes as an effort to “crack the code for personal financing.”

As he gained a deeper understanding of solar financing, Conant saw how difficult it is for nonprofits and municipal organizations to buy solar panels, especially in West Virginia. Nonprofits don’t receive a tax credit, government entities are unable to take out loans, and commercial buildings receive less compensation than homeowners do for surplus power generated by their solar panels. After researching how to bring solar to these community groups with a model that could be duplicated in any state, he created Solar Holler.

The solar financing project raises funds to place solar panels on nonprofit or municipal buildings. The process mirrors crowdfunding, which depends on donations from interested parties, usually solicited online. But crowdfunding is less practical among small communities and low-income residents, so Conant brainstormed an alternative revenue stream.

He partnered with Mosaic Power, a company that pays homeowners for their hot water heater to be hooked up to Mosaic’s remote system. Creating a smart grid, Mosaic can then turn the hot water heater on and off in response to electricity demand. The utility pays Mosaic Power for helping them use electricity more efficiently, and the profit is transferred back to the homeowner through a $100 yearly payment. Residents can sign up for Mosaic’s program through Solar Holler, pledging their return to help fund a solar installation on a community building.

An investor will buy the solar panels after enough residents of a community pledge their revenue to a Solar Holler project to guarantee the investor a return. The pledged hot water heater payments will cycle to other Solar Holler projects once the initial project is paid off. “We’re using energy efficiency to fund the solar,” Conant says.

Conant launched the pilot project in his hometown at the Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church. The congregation considered solar in the past but could not afford it. Than Hitt, church member and community organizer, spent three years working with the congregation and Shepherdstown community. He provided the initial investment in the solar panels. “Self-reliance is a big thing in West Virginia and we’re tapping into that,” says Hitt.

Pastor Randy Tremba set up a table by the church’s hot water heater for people to sign up for the Mosaic Power program in April. “A trusted community leader is a crucial ally,” he adds. Within three months, enough people signed up for the program to guarantee the solar installation.

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Mountainview Solar crew members install the solar panels. Photo by Dan Conant.

With 100 people signing on to participate, plus the sale of renewable energy credits to various Pennsylvania utilities, the project quickly moved forward. Mountainview Solar, a local solar contractor, installed a 16.2-kilowatt solar array on the church this past August, providing about 40 percent of the church’s electricity. The Shepherdstown Elementary School principal brought the fourth and fifth grade classes to the ribbon-cutting ceremony and pledged to incorporate solar energy into the educational curriculums. “I think it’s the start of something big,” says Conant.

Solar Holler’s goal is to have a project in each of West Virginia’s 55 counties within the next five years. Two more projects are currently underway: the city hall in Lewisburg and the public library in Harpers Ferry, which achieved its quota for Mosaic Power sign-ups in mid-November.

Conant sees the importance in diversifying the economy of a state that has largely been powered by coal extraction. “We can still be an energy state, we just need to stop thinking of ourselves as a coal state,” he says. Ninety-six percent of West Virginia’s energy comes from coal, and mining has a continued legacy of destructive health, environmental and financial impacts. “Solar in West Virginia is more powerful than anywhere else in the country,” says Conant.

Visit SolarHoller.org to learn more.

Southeast Solar Updates

Friday, December 19th, 2014 - posted by allison

By Eliza Laubach

Virginia utility to charge homeowners with large solar arrays

Appalachian Power Company will impose a fee on homeowners with solar power systems exceeding 10 kilowatts. Most residential solar systems are not affected, but environmental groups decried the standby charge for its implications on future residential solar development. The charge also weakens the incentive for net metering, which allows a utility customer who generates their own electricity to sell surplus power into the grid.

Experimental solar power plant may add power to Fluvanna County

Steve Zenman, founder of Virginia-based solar research nonprofit Zenman Energies, obtained approval from Fluvanna County in October to build a concentrated solar power plant. These utility-scale systems reflect sunlight from a large surface area into a small area to create steam that spins turbines, generating power. Zenman is developing a low-cost prototype, and will license the project as open-source to give other designers an affordable blueprint. If funding is secured and construction moves forward, he hopes to connect the plant to the Dominion Power grid.

Solar battery production to breathe new life into vacant cigarette plant

In a $68.5 million deal, Swiss start-up Alevo Group plans to convert a Phillip-Morris cigarette plant in Concord, N.C., to manufacture a lithium-ion and graphite battery system called the GridBank. Alevo expects to create up to 2,500 jobs over the next three years. Made up of multiple battery cells, the system can store up to one megawatt-hour of energy, which will make renewable energy distribution more efficient. The first shipment of batteries will go to China by the end of this year, The Guardian reports.

Duke Energy invests $500 million in utility solar, may suppress residential solar

In September, Duke Energy announced plans to invest in 278 megawatts of solar energy, all scheduled to be on-line by 2016. This will help Duke meet North Carolina’s Renewables Portfolio Standard, which requires investor-owned utilities to generate 12.5 percent of total electricity from renewables by 2021. While Duke invests in large-scale solar farms, the utility has indicated that it wants to pay homeowners less for the energy rooftop solar panels provide to the grid. This has had a chilling effect on rooftop solar installers, according the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association.

Cellphones get a free charge in Knoxville, community solar on Tennessee horizon

On Market Square in downtown Knoxville, cellphone users could get a free charge from the sun in 15 minutes. The Tennessee Valley Authority installed their first solar-powered charging kiosk in October. It can charge up to six phones or tablets at a time and power devices for up to two days without sun. TVA’s next step in solar will fund a minimum 500-megawatt community solar project for a local power company. In another recent announcement, TVA said that they will buy up to 4 megawatts of solar energy at two cents above market rate from community solar projects built by local power companies.

Josh Bills and Steve Boyce at the Berea Solar Farm. Photo courtesy Josh Bills

Josh Bills of Mountain Association for Community Economic Development and Steve Boyce, former chair of the Berea Utilities Advisory Board, at the Berea Solar Farm. Photo courtesy Josh Bills

Berea community solar farm doubles in size

A community solar farm established in 2011 by Kentucky’s Berea Municipal Utilities doubled in size this past summer to 246 panels. A homeowner or business can lease a panel for $750 and be credited monthly for the energy generated by a solar panel. The utility has leased 31 of 126 new panels since July. In October, the solar farm produced almost 6 megawatt-hours of energy, enough to power about five average Berea homes.

Solarize initiative spreads across Virginia and North Carolina

A movement toward solar-purchasing cooperatives is helping more homeowners go solar. A minimum of ten people pledging to buy solar panels together get a discount on the parts, while local contractors competitively bid for the installations. Eleven communities in Virginia and seven in North Carolina have launched solar cooperatives. Solarize Chatham celebrated the highest support of any North Carolina Solarize program in November with 56 installations.

A schizoid rate case and a climate directive in Virginia

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 - posted by hannah
Virginia ratepayers made their voices heard before important orders by the State Corporation Commission on residential solar fees and electricity rates.

Virginia ratepayers made their voices heard before important orders by the State Corporation Commission on residential solar fees and electricity rates.

Here’s the bad news: Virginia’s State Corporation Commission (SCC) has approved a charge of about $3.50 per kilowatt on Appalachian Power Company customers with solar arrays larger than 10 kilowatts.

But it’s even more disappointing in light of Virginia’s recent explosion in residential solar installations and our state’s opportunity to lead by encouraging efforts that make clean energy affordable.

We’ve covered the “solar standby” charge problem and examined theories about why such “taxes on the sun” are spreading. Regardless of the reasons behind Appalachian Power’s pursuit of the charge, it is now in place and applies to five accounts currently and any customer who installs a new solar system larger than 10 kilowatts in the future. But there’s a more interesting aspect of the SCC’s recent order that’s worth a look.

Elsewhere in the very same ruling, regulators rejected an APCo proposal to raise fixed fees for residential customers that would have had serious consequences for energy use, conservation and renewable energy in the region.

This sort of restructuring spells trouble for advancing technologies like solar, small residential wind and energy efficiency. It’s an issue that’s been popping up recently in rate hearings around the country. In states such as Nevada and Wisconsin, utilities have proposed major changes to the way most customers’ bills are set up in the form of vast increases in fixed monthly fees and cuts to usage-based rates. Imagine being a utility and feeling concerned about how the public views the way you do business. Do you think you might be tempted to announce cuts to rates, while making up the balance from fees that many customers might overlook on their bills? APCo proposed a near doubling of the flat fees their residential basic customers pay from $8.35 to $16.

Public relations aside, it only takes a quick thought exercise to see how these changes would play out for customers in real life: a middle-class family in a mid-size home might not see a difference in their bill at all, with savings on per-unit energy costs negated by higher fixed fees. A family that lives in a large home and uses a lot of electricity each month might see lower bills since the fixed fee makes up a smaller share of their bill. But a small home of a low-income family that uses less energy, perhaps with fewer electronic gadgets and a habit of keeping the thermostat low during colder months, could be stuck with higher bills in spite of lower rates per kilowatt-hour as fixed charges drive up their energy costs.

Appalachian Power spokesperson John Shepelwich speaks to the media about the reasons the  utility pursued a "standby" charge on customers that have gone solar.

Appalachian Power spokesperson John Shepelwich speaks to the media about the reasons the utility pursued a “standby” charge on customers that have gone solar.

Shifting toward higher fees paid by all customers regardless of how much energy they consume and away from usage-based charges has been criticized in other states — not only on grounds of economic injustice but also for the obvious way it undercuts the incentive to conserve energy, and for the less apparent way it can deter investments in clean energy.

Lowering electricity rates fundamentally affects the calculation of whether installing a household solar array makes financial sense, and results in a big reduction in the returns that a solar owner would otherwise expect to receive The SCC found that APCo had not established that the charges were reasonable and rejected the increases, but experts in the region are looking ahead to other methods of rate restructuring utilities might pursue including minimum bills.

The second positive outcome of the APCo case came particularly as a result of representation by the Southern Environmental Law Center and the advocacy of clean energy supporters like you. It is the SCC order on APCo’s long-term resource plan that contains the seeds of future climate progress. In the big picture, it may be the most significant part of all the SCC’s orders from last month: the directive that APCo monitor the development of the EPA standards on carbon from power plants and model different methods to comply.

For regulators to tell a utility with a generation mix that is projected to remain over 80 percent coal-based through 2027 that it must model methods to address carbon pollution is huge. And the way the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is written, options that will truly benefit customers like investing in energy efficiency programs (which are also the lowest-cost options for compliance) should take center stage in the utility’s future plans to reduce its greenhouse gas intensity. It’s due to the engagement of several customers who have gone solar that wrote letters to the SCC, the dozens who commented in favor of a cleaner, more reliable, more affordable energy future for the region, and those who came to Richmond to be heard in person, that our message got through.

Virginians advocate for clean energy outside the state Capitol Building. Photo by Virginia Sierra Club

Virginians advocate for clean energy outside the state Capitol Building. Photo by Virginia Sierra Club

From here, it’s important to do your part to make sure your legislators are aware of these issues. The General Assembly originally approved a bill that authorized solar standby charges because they were portrayed as a tool to right a wrong: utilities used a red herring argument claiming that customers who generate their own solar electricity didn’t pay enough for the services they receive. In other words, in trying to solve a perceived problem presented by the utilities who contend that their freeloading solar customers are being subsidized by the customers who don’t generate clean energy, the legislature and regulators created a weapon to be wielded against a class of customers that by-and-large benefits the system by providing pollution-free energy at some of the year’s peak use times, helping other ratepayers avoid new generation and transmission expenses while cutting pollution.

Meanwhile, last month’s legislative committee hearing on the Clean Power Plan reminds us that most members of the legislature are in the dark about the effects of the fees they approve and the risks that these new charges will change the calculation for constituents in their districts who might otherwise see a much better deal and likely choose a local installer to outfit their home with a solar array. For instance, the infamous hybrid car fee passed in 2013 only to be hurriedly repealed in 2014 — with popular outrage, swift policy reform is impressively easy. And while the SCC has a certain degree of discretion, it’s bound to follow the letter of the law, which we, with help from our legislators, have the power to rewrite.

Appalachian Power’s solar customers rise and shine for clean energy

Friday, October 24th, 2014 - posted by hannah
Customers of Appalachian Power gather in Lynchburg to learn about their utility's resistance to expanding energy efficiency and investing in solar.

Customers of Appalachian Power gather in Lynchburg to learn about their utility’s resistance to expanding energy efficiency and investing in solar.

Appalachian Power Company must bring large-scale clean energy to our area; that’s the message this week from hundreds of APCo’s Virginia customers.

The company goes before state utility regulators next Tuesday with its long-term plan to meet electricity demand, which includes only the most modest investments in renewable energy sources despite a new rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency intended to spur clean energy development and cut carbon emissions.

No one is more vocal about the need for APCo to invest in solar than those who already have: customers with their own solar arrays. Residents concerned by the utility’s recent proposal to levy a new fee on customers with solar are just part of a larger group of APCo customers demanding their utility stop limiting its proposals for energy efficiency programs and take advantage of the same opportunities to expand residential solar that utilities such as Georgia Power have taken advantage of lately.

At a program co-led by Appalachian Voices in Lynchburg on Thursday, APCo customers examined the utility’s proposed efficiency and clean energy investments and saw just how minimal they are. The risks of dirty energy are clear to Lynchburg residents who saw a train carrying crude oil derail and explode in the heart of the downtown district this past summer, polluting the James River and threatening historic properties.

The large, diverse area of Virginia served by Appalachian Power also is home to several thriving solar companies, and many successful community Solarize initiatives have encouraged more homeowners to go solar. So, increasingly, area residents see purchasing solar as a way get reliable, affordable and pollution-free energy. In other words, it’s money well spent.

Thirty-two solar homeowners sent a collective comment to the State Corporation Commission this week calling for Appalachian Power to build clean energy at the same scale they have built fossil fuel power plants. Those homeowners and other citizens who are following the EPA’s proposed carbon rule believe that their utility is acting unreasonably by not addressing the new limits in its long-term planning.

Following the hottest September on record worldwide and an historic demonstration in New York City, the need for Virginia utilities to shift to energy efficiency and carbon-free sources is now clear, and APCo customers are telling their utility it can make a start, while lowering bills and creating jobs at the same time.

We Made History! Highlights from the People’s Climate March

Thursday, September 25th, 2014 - posted by kate

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View more photos of the Appalachian contingent at the People’s Climate March.

Last weekend, Appalachian Voices joined 400,000 people in New York City for the largest climate march in history. And it was truly inspiring.

Kate Rooth, Matt Wasson and Thom Kay were among the AV staff joining the Appalachian contingent at the People's Climate March

Kate Rooth, Matt Wasson and Thom Kay were among the AV staff joining the Appalachian contingent at the People’s Climate March

While massive extractive fossil fuel interests try everything in their power to tighten their grip on our region’s energy future, it’s moments like these that show we are making progress. People from across the country came to the march, including many dear friends from Central Appalachia who are directly impacted by the destruction of mountaintop removal coal mining and our country’s reliance on coal.

We laughed, we cried, we danced and chanted, but most importantly we sent a signal loud and clear to world leaders gathering for UN climate negotiations that action must be taken immediately to avert further impacts of climate change.

The march was more than four miles long and included an enormous variety of people and issues. One contingent of activists supported the clean, renewable power sources that will help address the climate crisis. In the midst of the robust Virginia contingent, dozens of wooden model wind turbines twirled in the breeze. In the middle of the march was a youth contingent which included K-12 students and their families and stretched more than four blocks. The visuals were stunning, the energy was electrifying, and for once, the weather was perfect for a climate march!

The People's Climate March, stretched for nearly four miles and included and estimated 400,000 people. Photo from Avaaz.org

The People’s Climate March, stretched for nearly four miles and included and estimated 400,000 people. Photo from Avaaz.org

Leading the march were communities in the frontlines of the climate crisis. From Black Mesa, to the Gulf, inner city Chicago to the hollers of Appalachia, impacted communities have been standing together as part of the Climate Justice Alliance. It was an honor to stand with Appalachian leaders and support the courageous efforts the frontline communities that were marching.

The People’s Climate March demonstrated that communities are standing together and the immense power of those committed to fighting. Perhaps most importantly, it reminded each of us that we are in this together.

As we continue to fight state-by-state and town-by-town in our region for solutions and strong measures to reduce pollution, this march filled us with inspiration and resolve.

Were you at the march? We’d love to see your stories and memories in the comments.

Updates: Stopping the “Tax on the Sun” in Virginia

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 - posted by hannah

solar on house

As the comment period concludes on Appalachian Power Company’s proposed solar “stand-by” charge and next week’s formal regulatory hearing nears, we’re at full swing in a major push for solar freedom in Virginia.

Concerned ratepayers from Abingdon to Amherst, Botetourt to Blacksburg, Lynchburg and Floyd and all across the state have called for their power company to work with customer-generators and not to interfere with the free market for residential clean energy. Solar installation professionals, local elected officials, and solar homeowners have lent their voices in hope of denying an unfair and punitive new policy.

In local news sources — print and public radio – and in the blogosphere, the word is out: Virginia’s second-largest utility seeks to impose an unfair new fee on customers with solar arrays on their property over 10 kilowatts. Hundreds of Appalachian Power customers have already told the SCC that this fee punishes those who benefit their communities in so many ways by choosing to invest in clean energy for their homes, and it’s clear how this move by the company threatens to turn good candidates for new installations away from going solar.

To protect affordable clean energy options for customers, there is still time to take action and take this effort through the last mile. Come out and be in the room at the public hearing in Richmond at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, September 16 at the State Corporation Commission when citizen comments are heard on the utility’s proposal.

Contact me, your local campaigner Hannah Wiegard, at hannah[at]appvoices.org if you’re an ApCo customer and have questions, need a hand crafting testimony, or would like help arranging transportation to the hearing in downtown Richmond on Tuesday, September 16. See you there!