Dear Commonwealth of Virginia,
As the Head of Government Affairs at Arcadia, I am writing to you on behalf of our company to urge you to further embrace shared solar’s place in the 2022 Virginia Energy Plan. Arcadia is a technology company whose mission is to empower energy innovators, businesses and consumers through groundbreaking software that changes the game for shared solar. Just this month, we became the first company with one GW of residential community solar capacity. To put this into perspective, 1 GW is equivalent to 100,000 households and enough power to prevent more than 1 billion pounds of coal from being burned each year.
We believe that shared solar is a key part of the future of clean and reliable energy, and now is the time for Virginia to expand the use of these projects.
Our main priority is to reduce costs for consumers, bring reliable energy, promote economic growth, and create sustainable jobs in the communities who need it the most. These goals are fully consistent with the draft energy plan guiding principles laid out by the administration. Shared solar gives businesses and consumers a low-cost option for efficient energy – saving them, on average, 10% on their electricity bills. Additionally, shared solar projects create new jobs for Virginians, while responsibly driving economic development and creating new revenue streams throughout communities.
Despite the legislation enacted in 2020 to help usher in the Commonwealth’s first shared solar projects, the pilot program capacity limitation of 200 MWs and the SCC’s proposed minimum bill fee – championed by legacy providers like Dominion Energy – make shared solar projects practically unfeasible for Virginians required to pay the program’s punitive minimum bill. The clean energy option that fosters energy bill savings with the lightest touch and greatest reward is currently not a reality in Virginia.
Shared solar projects in Virginia would be valuable for the Commonwealth, as they help boost local economies with well-paying, sustainable jobs. Just this past year, commercial and shared solar projects created close to 40,000 new jobs nationwide, equaling almost 20 jobs per MW.
Shared solar works. It creates more jobs, makes solar energy more accessible, initiates bill savings for consumers, and, overall, reduces carbon emissions to help preserve our planet.
With the Virginia Energy Plan under review this year, we recommend that you remove the barriers for shared solar projects and prioritize shared solar as a clean, reliable energy source. For these reasons, we ask the administration implement the following policies to create a healthy and vibrant shared solar market:
Establish a permanent shared solar market with a 5000MW cap
Establish a comprehensive fixed minimum bill to ensure projects pay their fair share for grid access, not to exceed $25.
Establish a Consumer Bill of Rights to put the rights of households and independent businesses before monopoly interests.
Establish TOU rates that incentivize private investment of distributed energy resources into public infrastructure that benefits all rate classes.
Governor Glenn Youngkin has frequently noted his support for an “all of the above” energy approach that would include all forms of solar energy. Fundamentally, shared solar will drive free market growth and economic expansion and attract new capital, all of which are priorities of the administration. And finally, the expansion of shared solar is fully consistent with the guiding principles outlined by the administration.
We appreciate the opportunity to submit these comments and hope for the opportunity to engage in further discussion as you finalize the 2022 Energy Plan.
Head of Government Affairs