Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Energy
Department of Energy
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8/22/18  8:30 am
Commenter: Seth Heald

Energy Plan Must Focus on Decarbonizing Electric Grid Quickly


Virginia has for too long delayed the decarbonization of our electric grid. This needs to happen very quickly because of the urgency of addressing global warming. Rooftop distributed solar must be a key part of that effort. It delivers carbon-free electricity when it is needed most, it creates jobs, and give consumers energy choice and freedom. Virginia’s energy plan must recognize homeowner solar's unique value and set forth a plan to greatly increase its deployment in the next decade. Governor Northam and DMME should consider the following recommendations as part of the 2018 Energy Plan. 1) Provide incentives for distributed solar coupled with battery storage as a resiliency strategy.  Data from areas recently hit by weather disasters (Puerto Rico and Florida) demonstrate that on-site solar energy coupled with battery storage is the best way to provide resilient power during natural disasters. 2) Expand incentives and reduce barriers to consumer-owned solar to create well-paying local jobs. According to data from the Solar Foundation, 84% of Virginia’s solar jobs are in the ‘distributed’ rooftop solar sector. Rooftop solar, and the jobs it creates, depend on fair market access and incentives like net metering and third party ownership. It is hindered by utility-imposed standby charges, arbitrary limits on net metering and system size limitations. To increase solar jobs, Virginia needs to expand net metering, third party ownership and eliminate unnecessary barriers to consumer-owned solar. 3) Grid modernization must include consumer participation as a key element. A truly modern grid must be a two-way energy system that directs benefits and control back to energy consumers. Advances in rooftop solar, battery storage and electric vehicles now enable energy consumers to actively participate in their energy system. Planning for grid modernization must therefore include substantial input from consumers, as opposed to utitlities, to ensure that plans adquately value solar distributed generation. Additionally, planning should not assume that Virginia's electric cooperatives speak for their members. As the Repower REC campaign ( has showed, cooperatives work in subtle and non-subtle ways to avoid transparency and democracy. Planning involving co-ops must include cooperative reform groups such as Repower REC.



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