Virginia opens the door for independent proposals for solar projects in Southwest Virginia


Chelsea Barnes

Cat McCue

The Virginia State Corporation Commission has announced that it is re-opening acceptance of registrations for third-party, non-utility owners of solar generation through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). The pilot program has been closed to registrations since January when the previous state limit on such arrangements was reached. Under new laws passed this year, independent solar providers can today begin filing “notices of intent” with the commission. Those filings will become official July 1, the effective date of the new laws.

PPAs will now be available to customers of Old Dominion Power for the first time. The utility serves 30,000 customers in Southwest Virginia. The new PPA program expands coverage for customers Appalachian Power and Dominion Energy, which previously had been very limited. Now, solar installations developed through the PPA program for customers of all three of the utilities can be between 50 kilowatts and 3 megawatts. Nonprofits and low-income customers are not subject to the size minimum.

Statement from Chelsea Barnes:

“We applaud lawmakers and the commission for expanding this important financing option for solar energy into Southwest Virginia, where electricity customers have faced significant barriers to solar energy to date.

“These barriers have long prevented Southwest Virginia from garnering the economic benefits of the rapidly growing solar industry. This announcement marks a significant milestone in the work of the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia, which has been advocating for access to PPAs for years.

“Given this and other policy changes related to solar energy this year, we expect that a new solar energy market can emerge in the coalfield region of Virginia, helping to revitalize the economy and lower electricity bills in these communities.”