Pushing for Solar Freedom and Utility Accountability in Virginia

We traveled to Richmond, Va., on Feb. 19 with concerned citizens and fellow members of Southwest Virginia’s New Economy Network and Virginia Organizing to speak to Virginia state representatives about a number of issues, including Del. Terry Kilgore’s solar bill.

Del. Kilgore introduced H.B. 1252, legislation that would make renewable energy more attainable to Virginia nonprofits and tax-exempt groups who are electricity customers of Appalachian Power Company and Old Dominion Power. Currently, these tax-exempt customers are not eligible for existing federal tax incentives for renewable energy.

The bill passed unanimously out of the House but did not get a chance to make it through the Senate, despite broad support from local planning districts, development authorities and higher education institutions. Voting on H.B. 1252 was delayed for one year, though the bill still has a chance of passage in 2018 if attached as an amendment to another bill. Del. Kilgore says he remains committed to its passage, and we are, too!

During Virginia’s legislative session, we also opposed a massive rate bill backed by Dominion Energy. Though the bill passed, citizen voices forced legislators to take the unusual step of scrutinizing the utility giant’s requests.

In Senate Bill 966, Dominion designed a variety of mechanisms to avoid future regulatory oversight and unfairly pocket hundreds of millions or more of its customers’ money. Yet due to a groundswell of constituent pressure and hard work by a variety of consumer and environmental advocates, including Appalachian Voices, more and more legislators now are asking: “Should a monopoly utility write the laws that govern monopoly utilities?” The answer, of course, is “no.”

Read Virginia Program Manager Peter Anderson’s blog post on the rate bill here.

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