West Virginia Repeals “Alternative” Energy Law

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.


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