Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Energy
Department of Energy
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8/22/18  7:32 pm
Commenter: Laura Hagg

Removing barriers to solar


My name is Laura Hagg and I moved to Arlington in 2002 after having lived in Colorado for 10 years. I used to work for the utility there Xcel Energy and one thing I was proud of was how easy it they made it for you to purchase/install/use solar power.  I was very surprised moving there that Dominion seems to discourage this - when encouraging/installing more residential/government/school roof top solar could help us avoid building costly new coal/gas plants.  Learning more about this - I wanted to highlight what I think is crucial.



  • Remove the 1% cap on net metered solar.  Net metering reduces the need for utilities to build expensive new generation facilities, reduces carbon in the grid and increases grid resilience and emergency preparedness in communities.  Net metering is a critical component in any plan to reduce carbon and achieve cost effective clean energy goals.  The legislative cap on the amount of net metered solar in a utility territory stymies investment and threatens the viability of the rooftop solar installation business, which has created tens of thousands of jobs in other states.  The 2018 Energy Plan should recommend repeal of the 1% cap.


  • Clarify that third-party financing through power purchase agreements (PPAs) for customer-sited solar is legal.  Under a third-party PPA, a solar developer owns and operates a solar facility on customer’s property and then sells the electrical output to the customer.  The customer gets access to solar without incurring up-front costs; the developer takes advantage of the Federal investment tax credit and depreciation rules.  While it appears that the PPAs are legal under the Virginia Code, the utilities have taken the position that PPA’s are only permissible as pilot programs.  This has severely restricted the opportunity for third parties to pursue PPAs and obtain PPA financing except in the limited case of pilot projects.  The 2018 Energy Plan should recommend a legislative provision to clarify that third-party financing through PPAs is legal.
  • Permit local governments to install solar facilities of up to 5 MW on government-owned property and use the electricity for government-owned buildings.   This is really important to me as I also used to work in local government.  Local governments can save money  - and use the power to teach young people about it.  Current VA law limits the output of a solar facility on government-owned properties to on-site use or use on contiguous property, and imposes a 1 MW cap on any project.  The 2018 Energy Plan should recommend legislation that would allow local governments to credit up to 5 MW of output of a solar array located on government-owned property where there is no electric load – such as in the case of a closed landfill – to other government-owned properties within the same jurisdiction, such as schools or municipal buildings.  This would enable local governments to host arrays on their properties above 1 MW and thereby also achieve savings to taxpayers. 
  • Increase the project size cap for net-metered non-residential projects from 1 MW to 2 MW.   The Virginia Code restricts net-metered non-residential projects to 1 MW.  This restriction artificially limits the size of solar projects that could otherwise produce more clean electricity in our communities.
  • Allow customers to install a net-metered solar facility larger than that necessary to meet the previous 12 months of demand.  Currently, customers can only install a net-metered solar facility that is designed to meet the previous 12 months of demand.  This restriction prevents a customer from sizing a facility to meet future demand from, for example, purchases of electric vehicles or home additions.  It also allows power companies to second-guess customers’ decisions regarding the size of their solar arrays.  Yet, customers who produce more electricity than they consume over the year cannot sell the excess at retail.  Thus, there is no economic incentive for customers to install excess solar and no legitimate reason why the utilities should oppose repeal of provisions that limit the size of the net-metered solar facility to the previous 12 months of demand.    The 2018 Energy plan should recommend repeal of limitations currently imposed by the Virginia Code.
  • Allow owner/operators of multi-family residential and commercial buildings to install a solar facility on the building or surrounding property and sell the output to tenants whether or not they are individually metered, without being treated as a utility.  Under the Virginia Code, owners or operators are prohibited from installing solar facilities on multi-family residential as well as commercial buildings and selling the output to tenants without being treated as a utility.  This restriction especially hurts low and moderate-income tenants of apartment buildings who would like the same access to onsite solar enjoyed by owners of single-family homes. 
  • Eliminate standby charges on residential solar facilities between 10 and 20 kW.  Because of the growing popularity of electric vehicles, customers need larger residential solar systems.  Standby charges act as a tax on the larger systems making them economically prohibitive.  These charges, therefore, harm ratepayers by restricting the addition of privately-funded, clean peak power to the grid.  The 2018 Energy Plan should recommend that the Virginia Code be amended to eliminate standby charges on residential solar facilities between 10 and 20 kW. 

Thanks for letting me contribute my concerns.


Laura Hagg


CommentID: 66436