February 14, 2016

Virginia Lawmakers Mull Slew of Clean Energy, Storage Bills

As Virginia lawmakers weigh energy legislation, new measures were still being introduced and worked on in committee on Friday, Ivy Main, a state lobbyist with the Sierra Club, wrote in The Energy Collective.

Among others, Virginia lawmakers are considering bills to change local tax treatment for renewable energy, open investment access, broaden community solar initiatives, repeal standby charges for net metering, and develop energy storage programs and research consortiums. 

It is "orchestrated mayhem" in the Virginia General Assembly, according to Main. She explained that any bill that has not passed its own house by Feb. 16 is essentially dead, a date known as "The Crossover."


There is a lot of energy legislation up for debate in Virginia. Almost 20 bills are covering issues such as consumer choice, utility cost recovery, financing, tax credits, solar gardens and energy storage.

Four bills aim to reduce barriers to investment in Virginia's solar industry. "Virginia law is riddled with barriers that restrain the market for wind and solar in Virginia," Main wrote. "This year several bills take aim at the policies holding us back."

One measure, for example, would clarify that renewable energy companies with retail customers under power purchase agreements are not public utilities, exempting them from the statutory requirements for public utilities and suppliers. Another would effectively eliminate standby charges for residential solar systems by raising the size of facilities from 10 kW to 20 kW, which are required to pay.

"Since residential solar facilities that are net-metered are already limited to 20 kW, this would effectively repeal standby charges for residential net metering," Main wrote.

Two proposed bills seek to promote energy storage. House Bill (HB) 452 would create a consortorium to boost research and development of energy storage, with another bill seeking to develop a program that would enable commercial and industrial customers to sell battery storage services to the grid. 

Other measures authorize utilities to develop community solar gardens, establish tax credits for renewable energy property, and direct Virginia's governor to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

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