Dear Commonwealth of Virginia,
As the Senior Market & Policy Analyst at New Energy Equity, I am writing to urge you to further embrace shared solar’s place in the 2022 Virginia Energy Plan. We are a shared solar developer with offices in Maryland, Minnesota, and Colorado with experience developing community-scale projects across the country. We are always looking for new projects that offer our landowners and subscribers alike the opportunity to benefit financially while also increasing the resilience and reliability of the electric grid.
As a shared solar developer, New Energy brings reliable energy, economic growth, consumer savings and sustainable jobs to the communities who need it the most. Shared solar gives consumers a low-cost option for efficient energy – saving them, on average, 10% to 20% on their electricity bills. Additionally, shared solar projects create new jobs for Virginians and help drive economic development and revenue in our rural communities, responsibly.
Our projects in Virginia have a maximum size of 5MWs and take up less than 40 acres. As an industry we advocated for limitations on co-location of projects to preserve the rural integrity of the communities in which we operate. Revenues from an average 5MW project for a county over the life of the project with an anticipated tax rate of 1% can generate approximately $700,000 over the 25 year life cycle of the project while providing lease payments for the landowner of approximately 30k annually, enabling our farming communities to have a guaranteed source of income while preserving family farms.
Despite the legislation enacted in 2020 to help usher in the Commonwealth’s first shared solar projects, the pilot program capacity limitation of 200MWs and the SCC’s proposed minimum bill fee - championed by legacy providers like Dominion Energy – are anti-competitive and make entering the Virginia market untenable for us as a developer.
As consumers face overwhelmingly high prices in their day-to-day lives, average Virginians and businesses have no pathway to save on their energy bills or insulate themselves from price volatility in the energy markets. We firmly believe that shared solar in Virginia is a valuable venture for the Commonwealth, helping to boost the local economy with an influx of new, well-paying jobs. Many of these jobs are going to be in areas of that state that have historically seen high unemployment rates. Now that Virginia’s Energy Plan is under development again, we highly encourage you to remove the existing barriers for shared solar programs and make expanding shared solar a priority in this plan. For these reasons we ask the administration to create a healthy and vibrant shared solar market by:
Establishing a permanent shared solar market with a cap of at least 5000MW
Adopting a comprehensive fixed minimum bill to ensure projects pay their fair share for grid access while also allowing subscribers to save money on their electric bill
New Energy Equity