The State Corporation Commission of Virginia is currently debating two solar programs proposed by Dominion Virginia Power that would increase solar capacity within the state’s borders, something that critics say the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) has so far failed to achieve.  The larger proposal involves allowing the utility to select sites and directly finance new installations totaling 30 MW on large rooftops within the state, and another involves a residential purchasing program capped at 3MW.  No final decisions have been made, though it is generally expected the plans will move forward. While neither will open up large-scale commercial development in the state, representatives from Dominion have termed it a “demonstration program” rather than a full-fledged solar procurement.

Announcements regarding this new solar program coincide with protests over Virginia’s poorly structured RPS that is resulting in higher rates for customers, but no new renewables capacity within the state.  Most utilities in Virginia meet the voluntary RPS requirement of 15% renewable generation by 2025 by buying renewable energy credits (RECs) from existing renewable facilities, mostly out-of-state and mostly from facilities built before World War II.  While this does satisfy the legal terms of the RPS, it does not necessarily create jobs or new solar capacity in Virginia.  And since utilities that abide by these guidelines earn the right to charge slightly higher prices, ratepayers end up paying more.  Activists asking for more stringent RPS requirements kicked off weeklong protests on Monday.  Participating organizations include the Sierra Club and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

Dominion Virginia Power’s proposed solar programs have sparked debate among residents about what steps need to be taken to encourage solar development.  Activists surrounding the issue have concluded the plan is insufficient; however, in a state that is historically unfriendly to renewables, the program could be a significant first step.  Sol Systems will continue to monitor policy developments in hopes that a more robust market emerges from future legislation and programs.

About Sol Systems

Sol Systems is a solar finance firm and a leader in financial innovation in the renewable energy industry. Since its inception in 2008, Sol Systems has partnered with 350 installers and developers to bring over 3,000 solar projects from conception to completion by offering innovative financing solutions for residential, commercial, and utility-scale projects.

Sol Systems’ financing programs catalyze investments for a broad set of solar projects by simplifying their origination, diligence, and financing processes. Developers seeking financing for projects can access over $2.5 billion in capital through the Sol Systems investor network.

In addition to providing financing, Sol Systems also offers project due diligence, deal structuring, and asset management services – all designed to reduce overhead and transaction costs and quicken project development timelines.

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