Solar Advocates Press for Rules to Boost WV Business Growth
Friday, December 21, 2018
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Clean-energy advocates are looking to the Legislature for solar-energy rules they say could reform West Virginia's grid for consumers, big and small.
West Virginia doesn't allow Power Purchase Agreements – where a third party invests the big up-front costs of installing solar power, then charges the customer for the electricity. Autumn Long, program director with Solar United Neighbors of West Virginia, says more than half the businesses and almost all the schools, churches and hospitals that have "gone solar" nationally have taken that route.
She says it would also help attract new businesses committed to renewables.
"Seeking to source 100 percent of their power from renewable sources,” says Long. “So, if West Virginia doesn't start building out that renewable infrastructure to offer these companies, we're going to get passed over."
Meanwhile, utilities want the Public Service Commission to cut the rate they credit solar-system owners for the excess power they send back to the grid. Customers now get bill credit at the retail rate. The utilities want to credit their bills at the wholesale rate.
Long describes the state's net-metering law as "pretty good," but says entrenched fossil-fuel interests have fought hard against rules that would help the solar industry.
She says it's part of the reason West Virginia is losing out on solar installer jobs – the single fastest-growing job, nationally. Official records say the state has a few hundred solar positions, but Long says many of them are in manufacturing, with only part of their time spent on solar.
"The number of full-time solar installation jobs is probably more like in the dozens than in the hundreds,” says Long. “And that's compared to going on 4,000 solar jobs in Virginia, close to 7,000 in Ohio, over 5,000 in Maryland."
She notes West Virginia has some of the fastest-rising electric rates in the country, up about 6 percent a year, compared to about 1.5 percent nationally. She says it's another factor undermining the state's appeal for companies that might move here.
Not long ago, West Virginia had some of the lowest power rates. Now, it's near the middle of the pack.
get more stories like this via email
Voting-rights advocates are suing the state of Arizona over new regulations they say make it harder for some people to register and would block thousa…
New Hampshire ranks second in the country on measures of child well-being, according to the new 2022 Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey …
Massachusetts ranks first in the nation for children's well-being, according to the 2022 Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation…
Minnesota once again gets a high ranking among states for child well-being, but an annual report says the state's disparities remain a challenge…
Some measurements of children's well-being show warning signs in Iowa in the area of education. The numbers contrast with Iowa's overall ranking in a …
Health and Wellness
Nearly a dozen Iowa youths with disabilities are taking newly developed leadership skills out into the world. A summer academy wrapped up this month…
A coalition of community organizations teamed up in Oregon to force a chronic polluter out of business, and bring environmental justice to a nearby …
Health and Wellness
During National Health Center Week, health-care advocates are highlighting the work Community Health Centers are doing to improve access to care …