Front Porch Blog

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

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] 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!





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  1. Keith Augusto on October 1, 2014 at 5:18 pm


  2. Hannah on September 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Great question, Hank! ApCo took its cue from Dominion which got approval for a stand-by charge on residential customers with systems over 10kW. As far as I can tell it represents a good round number at the larger end of the range of sizes of average installations. It takes a slightly larger than average demand to use that much power.

    An interesting thing about net energy metering arrangements in Virginia is that utilities are required to give customers credit for excess power they generate and send back to the grid, up to a certain point. That is, the value rolls over month-to-month on customer bills on an annual basis, so folks tend to pick a size for their array that’s large enough to meet much of their need but not so big that they wouldn’t always get full credit for the power they generate.

    So this charge would only affect a few customers now, but as those with larger electricity needs, larger budgets, and more sunny space consider going solar, it will affect and more and more people.

  3. rebecca piatt on September 9, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    I am opposed to the solar standby charge.

  4. Hank Helmen on September 9, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    It would be interesting to know how many Kilowatts it takes to power the average home.
    Why did APC come up with 10KW as the “cut off point” ?

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